Organs from 5 Harvested in 36-hr Transplant-athon
CHENNAI: After five families said yes, it was 36 hours before close to a 100 members of the transplant teams at Apollo Hospitals managed a break. In a heart-warming coincidence, five separate families of patients at Apollo’s network of hospitals in Chennai, who had been declared brain dead through last weekend and Monday, told their grief counsellors that they were willing to have their dear ones’ organs donated.
And that’s when the transplant-athon kicked off. “Word came to us around 7 pm on Monday that there were cadavers available. From that time on, we kept getting calls from our counselors until we realised that we had five patients, whose organs could be harvested across our hospitals in Vanagaram, Greams Road and Teynampet,” explained Dr Anand Khakhar, Apollo’s Programme Director for the Centre for Liver Disease and Transplantation. The team quickly decided to do all the harvesting at the main centre on Greams Road and had all the donors shifted there. “After that we got seven operation theatres lined up and began assessing and harvesting organs from all the donors simultaneously. Time is of the essence here,” he added.
Eventually, the tally made for impressive viewing: 10 kidneys, five livers, two hearts and six corneas that are in the process of being transplanted to 23 people in all. “I just got done with my liver surgeries at 8 am this morning (Wednesday),” said Khakhar, sighing happily, but looking none the less for wear, “Though we worked for two nights and a day straight, all the nurses, anasthesists, doctors, surgeons, attendors and technicians are used to it. They’re high on achievement at this point, perhaps the exhaustion will kick in soon!”
To say ‘thank you’ to the donors families - most of whom spoke about how their fathers, mothers and dear ones continue to live on, despite their natural demise - Apollo Hospital and key movers from the Health and Family Welfare department including the Health Secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan and Deans from the State-run Medical Colleges were present at an event. Radhakrishnan said, “This is not publicity stunt, it is an awareness event. When we meet these donors there is no way we can compensate them for their loss. The real heroes are the families who have donated the organs of their dear loved ones. We may be doing ten times the number of transplants, but there is still a long way to go. I am indebted to thank these donors for their selfless donation, which is the greatest donation of all time. The Cadaver Transplant Authority is air-tight and transparent and we are an example for it.”
Concurring with him, Apollo Hospitals Group Chairman Dr Prathap C Reddy said, “I have asked the PM if we can pass an Act that a person can declare himself as an opt out for organ donation, failing which all the organs will be harvested and used to save life. The scheme is still in its infancy in India, because there are very few families like these who will donate their organs. TN government is doing a great job, but this needs to extend beyond this Centre and this State. Giving organs is not an insult to the body. You’re giving happiness to the soul.”