While celebrations are in order with a 46 per cent increase in cadaver donations in Tamil Nadu, a keen look at the statistics provides good reason for why this celebration is qualified by some concerns.
While the number of organs and donors has gone up substantially, the maximum number of organs has come from two hospitals in a single city. “Apollo Hospital and Government General Hospital are the two main contributors to the programme, and about 90 per cent of all organs come from these two institutions,” J. Amalorpavanathan, convenor, Cadaver Transplant Programme, explains.
“While there is substantial improvement in the numbers (a minimum of two cases a week), we are concerned that these achievements come from only two hospitals, and in the same city. Clearly, we need to decentralise operations,” he adds. The plan, Dr. Amalorpavanathan mentions, is to reach out to key centres in the south (Madurai) and west (Coimbatore) that have sufficient infrastructure to handle the cases.
V.K. Subburaj, Principal Secretary, Health, says one reason might be that most emergencies are rushed, from different parts of the State, to either of these two city hospitals. This does not mean that other hospitals are not capable of handling cases, if there is sufficient awareness of the process. “However, the benefits of the cadaver transplant programme of the State must be far-reaching and not confined to a city or to particular hospitals,” he adds.
Mr. Subburaj further explains the State's strategy, “We have a two-pronged strategy to handle this: carry out intensive sensitisation in other medical college hospitals, and appoint a grief counsellor (from MOHAN Foundation) in the major participating hospitals in Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore.” He says the State's programme will receive a further fillip if Tamil Nadu is roped into the Centrally-funded Organ Retrieval and Banking Organisations.
Dr. Amalorpavanathan also raises the issue of the cadaver hearts going waste. “There are not many takers, even in the private sector. We have to examine the reasons for this – Is it a question of affordability, or availability of infrastructure?” he asks. However, the heart valves are being harvested and used.
Keywords: cadaver donations