HYDERABAD: Have you, of late, received a WhatsApp forward announcing the availability of organs for donations as someone was declared brain dead? While these messages may seem like a lifeline for patients and their family who are in search of a donor, most these forwards are fake. Officials of Jeevandan, the State government’s cadaver organ donation programme, clearly state that such transplantations cannot happen just based on goodwill. Any organ donation has to go through the Appropriate Authority, constituted as per the Transplantation of Human Organs Act (TOHA) - 1994.
These Acts and rules were put in place to curb commercialisation of the process and exploitation of the poor. There are thousands of patients waiting for organ donors at any given point in time. Currently, 1,963 patients with chronic kidney ailments are there in the State looking for donors and organs. Any possibility of getting an organ, like these forwarded messages, revive hope in them. “We tried calling two numbers from which such messages were sent and found they were fake,” says Dr G Swarnalatha who is in-charge of the Jeevandan programme.
Express too called up a phone number mentioned in a message. “It’s a fake message. I have been getting many such calls),” said the person who picked up the call. Do officials consider it a nuisance as it crashes hopes of patients? Dr Swarnalatha says the only way out is to lodge complaints with the police. As per rules, organs can be taken after death of a brain dead patient if the person pre-authorises it. Or, transplant coordinators counsel family members about significance of organ donation.
According to the data, organs from about 500 brain-dead donors were harvested since 2013. Of them, five were children between 0 and 14 years, 27 were teenagers between 14 and 20 years and the rest were above 20 years. Experts say parents are not willing to donate organs of their children as they, obviously, want to fight till the last chance to save their children. “In case of children who are in need of organs like liver, we prefer donors who are also children because livers of adults do not fit children’s body,” says surgical gastroenterologists. They add that they have to then convince and sensitise the parents of the brain dead child to donate organs so that another child can live.
“Complete Liver from adult cadaver donors cannot be transplanted into a recipient child as size of the organ will be big which does not fit inside a child’s body. Though the adult liver can be split into right lobe and left lobe, which can be donated to one adult and one child, the process needs large a team of doctors,” says surgical gastroenterologist Dr CH Madhusudhan.