The country's target would be to reach Tamil Nadu' s rate of cadaveric organ donation of 1.3 per million people within the next two years, R.K. Srivastava, Director General of Health Services, Government of India, said here on Saturday.

At present the country's rate was 0.3 per million, and it is essential to bring the country level with Tamil Nadu, which was leading the nation in terms of cadaver organ transplantation, he added. “This is certainly going to require tremendous efforts. However if even one per cent of the patients in the hospitals who are brain dead can be declared as such, and the potential for organ donation tapped, we can reach 1.3 per million,” Dr. Srivastava said. The nation would have to go into ‘mission mode' to achieve this.

The DGHS was speaking at Samsaara (Circle of Life), a symposium on Organ Donation Awareness and Brain death organised jointly by his office, the Tamil Nadu Cadaver Transplant Programme, and Mohan Foundation.

Putting in place systems that will facilitate organ donation is at the core of increasing the number of cadaveric organs available for transplantation, he added. This is evident from Tamil Nadu, and even nations that have done much better, having reached a rate of 30/40 per million population. Even in these nations, there continued to be a scarcity of organs, with the number of people requiring life-saving organ transplantations always being higher than the number of organs available, Dr. Srivastava explained. This makes the task of spreading awareness crucial and continuous.

Earlier, he released a ‘brain-death manual' and inaugurated the one-year PG diploma course for transplant co-ordinators, to be conducted by Mohan Foundation in association with IGNOU.

Mayilvahanan Natarajan, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University, said the programme would have to include bone as an organ that can be harvested and transplanted. Awareness would have to be built on this concept too, he added. Most people think donating the bone means taking away the hand or leg, but that is not so, the Vice-Chancellor clarified.

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