Thursday, March 30, 2023

Gift of life

On Tuesday, March 14, the Centre informed that it has done away with the requirement of State domicile for registration of patients requiring organ transplantation. In a written response, the Minister of State for Health, Bharati Pravin Pawar, told the Rajya Sabha that from now on such patients will be able to go to any State of the country and register themselves for organ transplantation. According to the Minister, the Union Government is working with the aim of ‘One Nation, One Policy’ for organ donation and transplantation in consultation with the States. “In this regard, it has been decided to remove the requirement of domicile of the State for registration of patients requiring organ transplantation from deceased donor. Now such patients will be able to go to any State of the country and register themselves for organ transplantation”, she said. According to the new Government guidelines, the upper age limit of 65 years as eligibility for registration to receive deceased donor organ has also been removed. Now, a person of any age can register for receiving deceased donor organ. Various figures show that organ donation is a critical issue in India, as the country has a high demand for organs due to a growing population and increasing incidences of diseases that require organ transplantation. However, the rate of organ donation in India is low compared to other countries, which exacerbates the shortage of organs available for transplantation. According to reports, the country’s organ donation demand is outstripping the supply, and this was made only worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasising the need to re-evaluate the approach and increase awareness around organ donation. Cultural beliefs surrounding organ donation have also been a key factor for years in our country but factors like poor infrastructure, collection issues, and transportation difficulties truly need to be addressed to improve the ecosystem. As per latest estimates, India has an organ donation rate of 0.52 per million population, far below the world’s highest rate of 49.6 per million in Spain. India requires its citizens to register as organ donors and for families to give consent after death, while Spain operates under an opt-out system that assumes consent unless otherwise stated. Every year, India performs the third highest number of transplants globally, yet only 8,000 out of 1.5-2 lakh people obtain a kidney transplant, 1,800 out of 80,000 receive a liver transplant, and 200 out of 10,000 are given a heart transplant. A variety of factors have been identified as contributing to the shortage of donated organs, including a lack of awareness about organ donation, superstitions and misconceptions surrounding the practice, religious constraints, and infrastructural issues. Statistics show that organ donations are not nearly enough to meet the demand and this is due to more than simply an inadequate number of donors. Infrastructure must be improved, and even the donated organs must be utilised efficiently to prevent wastage. Transplant specialists, government, and non-government organisations are all hindered by the prohibitive cost of private hospitals and the lack of facilities and/or training in public hospitals. It has been said that in the last five years, government- and media-driven awareness campaigns have successfully helped boost the country’s organ transplant programme. Initiatives like the Amendments to the Transplantation of Human Organs Act (THOA) and the founding of the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO) have reportedly streamlined the organ transplant system in the country. These efforts have increased India’s organ donation rate from one in 20 million people to one in 2 million people within a five-year period. Organ donation plays an extremely vital role in saving lives and improving the quality of life for patients in India. By increasing the number of organ donors, we can help to reduce the shortage of organs available for transplantation and improve the lives of many people in need. It is a selfless act that can have a profound impact on the lives of others. By considering organ donation, the donors have the opportunity to make an actual difference in the world and leave a lasting legacy of giving.