Increased public awareness and willingness of family members of brain dead patients to donate organs has helped Christian Medical College Hospital in harvesting cadaver organs and donating them to people battling for life, said Dr C E Eapen, medical superintendent of the hospital, who is also a liver specialist. Since 1999, the hospital had performed 44 cadaver liver transplants. The 2,300-bedded tertiary care hospital has also increased its resources and infrastructure to contribute towards organ transplantation in a big way.
The hospital has also performed kidney (20 in the past three years), eye, heart valves, lungs and skin transplants since the late 1990’s. Eapen said CMC has been a founder member in the State government’s Cadaver Transplant Programme (CTP), which is monitoring the cadaver organ harvest and donation activities through its wings -- Multi-Organ Harvesting Network Foundation and National Network for Organ Share. CMC has been doing well in liver transplantation as over 95 per cent of the patients who had undergone the transplantation have been leading normal lives. The first patient who underwent liver transplant in 1999 is still doing well, Eapen added.
Dr Mathew Joseph, head of the neuro-critical care unit at CMC said as more patients with head injuries were being brought for critical care, the hospital has increased the number of beds in the ICU to 16, four of them dedicated for head injury cases.
He also said, as families of brain-dead people require counselling before they volunteer to donate the organs for harvesting, a dedicated social worker attached to the hospital had been engaged.
Awareness on the part of families to help others who require organs has also correspondingly improved and only a small per cent of families still hesitate to donate organs, he pointed out.
Families of brain-dead patients belonged to all strata of society and they are beginning to understand the significance of organ donation, Eapen added. Cadaver networks communicate the organ requirement to the member hospitals through mobile phone alerts, to help them prepare for harvesting. Improved highways help quicker transportation of organs after they are harvested, perfused and cold packed to hospitals that require them. Recently, the organs of a road accident victim who was declared brain-dead was harvested and sent to hospitals in Chennai through road, in a record time of one-and-a-half hours, Eapen said.