Organ donation: ‘I have seen a huge change in the approach to organ donation’

As part of My Medical Mantra’s organ donation awareness month, we bring you stories emphasise on organ donation. In conversation with Surekha Joshi, an organ transplant coordinator, we ask her what has changed on this front. She has been working for the cause of organ donation since 1997

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Q. What differences have you noticed from 1997, when you started your work on organ donation and now?

A. Earlier, people never used to accept that brain death is possible. They used to ask if there are any other options still available to save the patient. But, now people are aware on what brain death means. Though, we do find one case in five where relatives will not accept that the person is brain death.

Q. What are the things people are unaware of?

A. We do get questions like do you give these organs just for the rich people or do you also give them to poor. They also take doubt on what if there is misuse of organs that we donate. We then explain them the entire legal procedure.

They also demand for money saying that we take money from those who get organs. Then we explain that it is a donation and so it should be done voluntarily.

Organ Donation-Month

Q. What is the level of awareness now?

A In late 90’s, brain-dead patient’s relatives used to think that you are killing patient when you are taking their organs. People were unaware to such an extent. But, the scenario has definitely changed. People have become a lot more aware now

Q. What are the reforms that you would expect in the entire process from organ retrieval to transplant?

A. Responsibility of coordinators should be defined. There should be good relations between intensivist and coordinator. Even coordinators should be taken for daily ward rounds along with intensivist. This will help in building good relations with the patient’s relatives.