The State government may decide to set up an independent fund for the Kerala Network for Organ Sharing (KNOS), the coordinating agency for Mrithasanjeevani, Kerala’s Deceased Donor Organ Transplantation Programme, to bear the expenses of extremely poor patients undergoing organ transplantation. The suggestion was made by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at a core-level meeting held here on Friday to discuss the progress of Mrithasanjeevani, which has turned an year old, and administrative and logistics issues relating to the programme.

One of the key issues discussed at the meeting related to financial issues faced by indigent patients who undergo organ transplantation, as a significant amount of money is required by them for immunosuppressant drugs to ensure that the transplanted organ is not rejected.

This is a lifetime expense and any non-compliance will lead to the failure of the organ and possibly the patient’s death.

It was pointed out at the meeting that certain district panchayats in Kozhikode and Malappuram were giving the post-transplant drugs free of cost to organ recipients.

Mr. Chandy said the government would explore the possibility of extending the scheme if all district panchayats in the State bore the drug expenses of organ recipients.

He also suggested that the Social Welfare Department be consulted to see if a pension scheme could be set up for poor transplant recipients.

Organ Donation Day

Mr. Chandy also suggested that November 27 be observed as Organ Donation Day every year to raise awareness of and promote deceased donor organ donation in a big way across the State and to honour the families who have been willing to save the lives of others even while grieving for their loved ones.

A main issue experienced by KNOS in the past one year was the uncertainty about who would bear the expenses of maintaining the deceased organ donor in the intensive care unit when it came to hospitals that had not been registered as organ retrieval centres, especially in the private sector.

It has now been decided that a private hospital where the donor is maintained will be reimbursed expenses, including that for removing, preserving, and transporting the organs, subject to a ceiling of Rs.1.5 lakh.

The private hospital that receives the organs will reimburse its share of the cost to the hospital that donates the organs.

However, the Chief Minister is believed to have pointed out that a mechanism should be there to ensure that the maintenance charges demanded are not excessive, and organ donation should not be allowed to become an opportunity for anyone to profit.

It has also been decided to appoint district coordinators who will liaison with KNOS to aid organ donation. Social workers will be identified in every district, and trained by KNOS and the Multi-Organ Harvesting Aid Network (MOHAN) Foundation in all aspects of organ donation to work with the programme.

It will be mandatory for all hospitals registered for transplant under KNOS to appoint trained Transplant Coordinators.

GO on post-mortems

It was decided at the meeting to speed up the issuance of a Government Order allowing post-mortem examinations to be held round the clock in hospitals after modifying the police procedures manual with the consent of the Home Ministry to aid the organ donation process.

Awareness

The government will ensure that wide publicity is given to the concept of organ donation, including incorporation of an individual’s willingness for organ donation in his/her driving licence and registration certificate (RC) book, after consulting the Transport Ministry.

V.S. Sivakumar, Health Minister; M. Beena, State Mission Director, NRHM; V. Geetha, Director of Medical Education; zonal transplant coordinators; Noble Gracious, KNOS nodal officer; Lalitha Raghuram, country director of MOHAN Foundation; and senior doctors participated in the meeting.


  • Idea mooted by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy

  • Cost of immunosuppressant drugs is a lifetime expense