Maharashtra No. 1 in organ donation, yet it still has a long way to go

Although the state of Maharashtra has pipped Tamil Nadu and Telangana to top ‘deceased donation’ list. It still has a lot more to achieve. In terms of awareness, a lot more needs to be done. And while cadaver organ donations are at an all-time high in the state, public hospitals and medical colleges have little claim in the success

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In comparison to other states in India, the highest number of cadaver organ donation has been witnessed in Maharashtra. The union health ministry also appreciated the efforts made by the state and Maharashtra bagged the award for being the best state in the field of deceased organ donation. The state received this award from the central government during the celebrations of the 10th Indian Organ Donation Day.

Maharashtra surpassed states like Telangana and Tamil Nadu, but the organ donation awareness campaign in Maharashtra still has a long way to go.

In 2019, Maharashtra reported 153 cadaver donations, which helped save the life of 449 patients who were in urgent need of an organ transplant. Every city in Maharashtra has played a significant role, but Mumbai has contributed a significant number of organ donation cases.

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From November 2018 to November 2019, Mumbai witnessed 73 cadaver donations. In comparison to 2017-2018, Mumbai has witnessed an increase in organ donation by 50 per cent, this shows that people from urban areas are stepping forward and the credit goes to the widespread organ donation movement.

Leading states and organ donation figures

Maharashtra – 153

Telangana -117

Tamil Nadu – 93

Dr Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, Director ROTTO-SOTTO, Western Region, Mumbai received the ‘best state award’ from Union Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan.

Dr Astrid Lobo Gajjawala said, “It’s a matter of pride for all of us, that Maharashtra has been conferred with an award from central government for efforts taken to raise awareness about organ donation.”

She added, “The award acknowledges the selfless gesture of the relatives of donors who move beyond their grief to think of another’s need. It also recognises the commitment and hard work of many stakeholders. Right from the Maharashtra government and Directorate of Health Services to hospitals, doctors and transplant coordinators contribute to the programme’s success.”

From November 2018 to October 2019 (the period considered for the award) the data for Maharashtra is as follows:

Organs retrieved and allocated for transplantation: 446

Organs transplanted: 449 (including those received from other States).

Total Brain stem deaths identified: 193

Successful retrieval of organs from brain-dead patients: 153

States like Tamil Nadu and Telangana have been ahead of Maharashtra in the field of organ donations for the past few years, but now, Maharashtra is No. 1 on the list.

If a movement or a campaign has to be a success, then you need to build a long chain and you have to reach out to every corner of the state to spread awareness.

In the past, the state government had undertaken a lot of schemes and awareness drives to spread a word on the importance of organ donation.

What steps were taken by the state government?

  • The state government had asked all the panchayats to take a pledge of organ donation.
  • Drawing and rangoli making competitions were organised in medical colleges.
  • The state government officials went door to door to campaign about the importance of organ donation.

Organ donation statistics in Maharashtra:

Mumbai – 73

Pune – 58

Nagpur – 16

Aurangabad – 3

Aarti Gokhale, a ZTCC coordinator from Pune, informed, “By the end of November, 104 patients in Pune were declared brain-dead. From this, the families of 58 patients consented to organ donations. This helped give a new lease of life to 175 patients who were in need of an organ transplant.”

“India has a dismal 0.65 per million population (PMP) Organ Donation Rate and we need to improve this,” stated union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.

We need to create and enhance awareness about organ donation on a monumental scale, such that it becomes a Jan Andolan and people voluntarily pledge to donate their organs, he stated.

Dr Vardhan said that a huge gap still exists between those requiring transplants and the actual number of organs available for transplant from deceased donors.

The Vice President, M. Venkaiah Naidu stated that there is a need for the organ donation procedure needs to be simplified and regulated.

The Vice President emphasised on the need for broadening definitions and easing procedures to regulate organ donation in accordance with scientific standards.

The Vice President was informed that over 12,000 people had already pledged to donate their organs and 500 people were taking the pledge of organ donation today under the aegis of the Dadhichi Dehdan Samiti. He was also informed that 294 body donations and 864 cornea donations had also been facilitated by the Samiti.

He added that government medical colleges have to contribute to the organ donation movement and training needs to be imparted to budding doctors.

An estimate suggests that 5 lakh people in India lose their lives each year, due to non-availability of organs. There is a requirement of 1.5 lakh kidneys each year, but barely 8 to 10 thousand are available for transplant. Similarly, 50,000 people die due to heart ailments and close to 2 lakh people die due to liver-related ailments.

As a lot of people require an organ transplant, experts suggest that the organ transplantation procedure should be made affordable. The common man cannot afford the exorbitant charges of the organ donation procedure. And the time has come that the government must chalk out a plan to make organ transplants affordable.

The Maharashtra government provides up to 2.5 lakhs of financial assistance for needy people. The government of Gujarat has also started a financial assistance scheme for those who want to undergo an organ transplantation procedure.

The Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik has announced an award in his honour of a 22-year-old youth named Suraj Behera, whose family decided to donate his organs. This award will help motivate organ donors from Odisha and facilitate organ donation.

Naveen Patnaik has announced an Annual Award in the name of ‘Suraj’ of Ganjam district whose parents donated six vital organs of their braindead son to save lives of others. The award will motivate organ donors from the state and institutions that facilitate organ donations.

Recognition to the donor families can help boost the morale of common people. Hence, the government must start acknowledging the sacrifice made by the families.

This all cannot happen without participation from everyone, from NGO’s and hospitals right down till the common man.