Rise in Organ Donations

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    • Recently, as per the data presented by the government in Parliament it says that organ donation numbers rose back in 2021 again after a fall during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Major Highlights of the data

    • Highest in last 5 years: The number of donations in 2021 were close to the highest in the last five years (12,746, in 2019) as per the data.
    • Organ wise data:
      • Organs donated by the kin of those who suffered brain death or cardiac death have remained lower than the number of donations from living persons. 
      • Organs like kidney and liver donated by living family members are comparatively higher.
    • State wise data:
      • There is also a geographical skew in deceased donations
      • Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Karnataka account for more than 85% of the total deceased donations.
        • Reason for the geographical skew could be that most organ transplant and harvesting centres are concentrated in these geographies.

    Current mechanism of Donating organs 

    • The availability of an organ is reported by the hospital to the state organ and tissue transplant organisation that matches it with recipients locally.
    • If a match isn’t found, it is referred to the regional organ and tissue transplant organisation and then to National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO). 
    • National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) is a national level organisation set up under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in Safdarjung Hospital New Delhi.

    How can an individual become a donor? 

    • To become a registered organ donor, we can take a pledge on the NOTTO website or mail a filled-in Form 7 of the Transplantation of Human Organs Act.
    • In addition to registering, it is important for donors to explain their beliefs to the members of their family. 
    • This is because even with a donor card, the family’s consent is sought for organ donation after the death of the individual. 
    • If the family refuses, the organs are not harvested.

    What is the need to increase deceased donations?

    • Demand-Supply gap: There is a gap in the number of organs needed and the number of transplants that happen in the country.
    • Lack of organs: India conducts the third highest number of transplants in the world in absolute numbers. 
      • Yet, of the estimated 1.5-2 lakh persons who need a kidney transplant every year, only around 8,000 get one. 
      • Of the 80,000 persons who require a liver transplant, only 1,800 get one. 
      • And of the 10,000 who need a heart transplant, only 200 get it.
    • Higher demand: Demand is on the rise because of the increasing prevalence of lifestyle diseases. 
      • Organs like heart and lungs can be retrieved only from deceased donors.
    • Wastage of resources: without deceased donations a precious resource is wasted.
      • Nearly 1.5 lakh persons die in road traffic accidents every year in India, many of whom can ideally donate organs. 
      • Although donations are possible after the heart stops working, almost all organs are currently harvested from brain dead persons.
    • Global Comparison: India has an organ donation rate of about 0.52 per million population. In comparison, the organ donation rate in Spain is 49.6 per million population which is the highest in the world.
    • Registration process: In India where a person must register to be an organ donor and the family must consent to it after death. Spain has an opt-out system where a person is presumed to be a donor unless otherwise specified.

    Way Forward/ How can deceased donations be increased?

    • Transplant coordinators: the larger hospitals that are capable of harvesting organs in India do employ transplant coordinators to explain and guide the families through the process. But still at present, only 2.6 organs from a deceased donor are transplanted against eight organs.
    • Harvesting organs from those who have had cardiac death instead of brain death can also increase the numbers.
      • But the problem is that the organs must be harvested very quickly after cardiac death because the circulation of blood carrying oxygen to organs stops. 
      • However, in India, by the time the family members are informed of the death, and they come from different parts of the city it is too late.
    • Need for awareness: The need of the hour is to generate more awareness about organ transplant so that people register as donors. 
      • Routine events should be organised to increase awareness. We can also reach out to school children for this purpose. 
    • Building Trust: There is a need to have faith that the donated organs are helping others. 
    • Good transport networks between cities and states can help boost organ donation. The government is working to improve coordination among the Road, Railway, and Aviation Ministries to facilitate the creation of green corridors for faster transportation of organs. 

    Source: IE