More Indians donated organs after Covid eased

In 2020, the living organ donation figure was 6,459, while in 2021 it stood at 10,644.

Published: 27th March 2023 08:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th March 2023 08:47 AM   |  A+A-

Organ Donation

Image for representational purpose only. (Express Illustrations)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: India, third in the world for living organ donation and transplantation, saw more people coming forward to donate organs, primarily to their family members, in 2022 when Covid-19 cases started seeing a dip.

In 2020, the living organ donation figure was 6,459, while in 2021 it stood at 10,644. This was mainly due to the lockdown and restrictions due to Covid-19. But in 2022, it increased to 12,791, better than the pre-Covid years. In 2018, 8,086 people donated their organs, and it went up to 10,608 in 2019. Though India fares well in living donation, the deceased donation rate is only 0.34 per million population approximately, much lower than in western countries.

While in 2020, 1,060 people provided the lifesaving gift of organ donation upon their death, in 2021, it went up to 1,743. But in 2022, it slipped to 904, according to the Union health ministry data shared in Parliament. However, this was still low as compared to the pre-Covid time. In 2019, deceased donations were 2,138, compared to 2,493 in 2018.

According to Dr Harsha Jauhari, Chairman of the Renal Transplant Division, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and a former member of the National Organ Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOOTO), even when a patient is brain dead, they are capable of saving six to eight lives since a deceased person can donate heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, liver, and intestine, including tissues like corneas, tissue and skin.

He said southern states – Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Karnataka – and western states - Maharashtra and Gujarat – report the maximum number of organ donations in the country. Even last year, when deceased donors saw a dip, these states continued to report the highest number of organs donated by the kin of those who suffered cardiac or brain death.

According to Dr R S Sindhu, head of the department in Surgical Gastroenterology, Government Medical College hospital, Kottayam, Kerala, the main problem why people don’t come forward to register themselves as donors is that they don’t trust the system as they believe that it involves medical malpractice.

“The best solution is to strengthen the government system, which will help change attitudes,” said Dr Sindhu, who conducted the first-ever liver transplant surgery in the government hospital.

Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, former President Indian Medical Association, said there is considerable confusion and lack of awareness about organ transplantation.  “People have difficulty understanding the difference between living and cadaveric organ donation. Cadaveric donations of organs like kidneys and livers do not happen in the mortuary, like obtaining spare car parts in a junkyard. It is wrongly portrayed in some Indian films,” he said.

Though Kerala records low numbers of deceased donors, compared to other southern states, it tops in registering the highest number of pledges of people coming forward to donate their organs after their deaths. Out of the 4,48,582 pledges that were registered in the country, Kerala alone registered 1,30,992 pledges. It is followed by Delhi (57,969), Maharashtra (49,168) and Tamil Nadu (19,443).

To promote Deceased Donor Organ Transplant (DDOT), the government last month made significant changes in the organ transplant regulations in the country under its ‘one nation, one policy’ rule. The three changes were removing the 65-year age cap for recipients, allowing them to register in any state and not just their home state, and offering no registration charge to register as an organ recipient.

India Matters


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