Deceased organ donations decline despite demand, Veena george tells assembly

According to K-SOTTO, the government agency responsible for coordinating organ donation, fear of certifying brain deaths has affected the programme.
Kerala Health Minister Veena George
Kerala Health Minister Veena George (File photo | B P Deepu)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : The deceased donor programme constitutes only 10% of the total organ donations in the state, while the rest are live organ donations, Health Minister Veena George said in the assembly on Friday. She was responding to questions on the challenges to organ donation.

Kerala Health Minister Veena George
Organ donation falters, patients in distress in Kerala

Highlighting the need for awareness on promoting the deceased donor programme and debunking misleading reports against organ donation, Veena said the number of patients awaiting organs has increased even when the deceased donor programme has slowed down. As many as 2,265 people are waiting for kidney transplants, 408 for liver, 71 for heart, 11 for hand, 10 for pancreas and three persons for small intestine, she said.

While legislators shared their concerns on the organ mafia and the procedures involved in live donor organ transplantation, Veena said scrutiny is on to check for the presence of unscrupulous elements and involvement of money.

“Applications for live donors are approved by the District Level Authorisation Committee (DLAC) as per national regulations. We have included people’s representatives to ensure poor people are not exploited. Though there are reports of the involvement of hospitals, the Kerala State Organ and Tissue Transplantation Organisation (K-SOTTO) is yet to receive any complaints. They are also conducting an audit of all 49 hospitals conducting organ transplantations,” Veena said.

She also spoke of plans to provide a single identity card to streamline live organ donation procedures and to ensure post-surgical medicines at an affordable rate. Allegations surrounding organ donations have caused a significant drop in the number of donations from deceased donors. In 2015, there were 215 such transplant surgeries conducted, but in 2023, the number plummeted to 62.

According to K-SOTTO, the government agency responsible for coordinating organ donation, fear of certifying brain deaths has affected the programme. “Live donations are more than 95% of total donations. There is huge disparity as hospitals are not certifying brain stem deaths fearing smear campaigns. Relatives of patients come to know about a donor only when hospitals certify and notify brain stem death,” said K-SOTTO executive director Dr Noble Gracious.

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