Tamil Nadu continues to lead the nation in organ donation, since it started the Cadaver Organ Transplantation Programme in 2008. Armed with a series of government orders issued by a sympathetic bureaucracy, it has had 374 donors and harvested a total of 2,079 organs, says Transplant Co-ordinator J. Amalorpavanathan.

Between August 2012 and July 2013, there were 99 donors, a record of sorts in the country. One other donor was from Karnataka during the same period. The effort is now on to bring more hospitals into the network to counsel families of brain-dead patients and generate more donors. In an attempt at enhancing quality, the State is contemplating setting up of an immunology lab in association with Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR University. This would facilitate testing transplantees for early signs of organ rejection. The government hopes to provide the service free of cost to patients from government hospitals, according to sources. On Organ Donation Day on Tuesday, all the employees of the Apollo Hospital pledged to donate their organs. Over 10,000 employees led by group chairman Prathap C. Reddy joined the national pool of volunteers for organ donation, as part of the hospital’s Gift a Life programme.

At a meeting held here to commemorate the occasion, Dr. Amalorpavanathan has said Apollo is a role model for the rest of the nation in carrying out cadaveric transplants. “No other hospital has gone this far to identify, maintain and harvest organs as Apollo has. In fact, Tamil Nadu’s cadaver transplant programme benefitted immensely from Apollo’s contributions.”

Cadaver vs Living donor

Apollo hospitals have performed, till date, over 5,037 kidney transplants, 1,371 liver transplants, 16 heart transplants, and eight lung transplant surgeries, according to Anand Khakhar, consultant, Liver transplant, and hepatobiliary surgeon. The ratio of cadaver donations to living donors is 25:75 per cent, he says, stressing the need to improve awareness on organ donation. This is essential, considering the huge burden of end stage disease in the country: The incidence of end stage liver disease is over 20 lakh, kidney failure occurs in 100 per million population and there are no less than one or two million people waiting for health transplants. The current organ donation rate for the country is only 0.08 per million per year. Tamil Nadu is the best, but at 1.15 per million per year, it is still far less than desired.

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