Liver transplants yet to take off in India

HYDERABAD March 29. Since they began in mid-nineties in India, the number of liver transplants have not exceeded 25 whereas King's College Hospital in London alone performs about 200 annually.

The reasons are not far to seek -- paucity of donors, high cost of surgery and, till recently, lack of high-tech facilities for post-operative management of the transplant patient.

``We need an independent body like the UK Transplant Support Service which coordinates donations of human organs with hospitals performing transplants'', said Dr. Mohd. Rela, Senior Consultant at King's College Hospital, now in India, to attend a meeting of Indian Association for Study of Liver (INSAL) at New Delhi.

As the liver is an organ that regenerates itself, segments of it can be taken from living relatives of the patient for transplantation. But, this is a complicated operation in which the mortality rate among donors is as high as 1 in 200 compared to 1 in 1,000 for kidney donors forcing doctors to prefer liver transplants from cadavers.

He told The Hindu that patients affected by Hepatitis `B' and `C' besides children with `biliaryatresia' will be the main candidates for transplant which is done when the chances of a patient surviving beyond one year is bleak. There are about 45 million carriers of Hepatitis `B' and 18 million of the rapidly rising Hepatitis `C' in India.

Dr. Rela, who got an entry in the Guinness Book of Records 2000 for performing liver transplant on a five-day-old girl in 1999, says the success rate in the West is 90 per cent.

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