Ever imagined the lives you could save by making an informed decision about organ donation? One organ donor can save up to eight lives. Around half a million people in India die every year, hoping, praying and waiting for organs. Even though they know the shortfall of organs is acute, they have no option but to continue waiting in the dark. The depressing statistics convey the urgent need for more people to step up and donate their organs to save people on the verge of losing their lives due to organ failure. “Organ donation is an area where we can make a huge difference,” said Bhavdeep Singh, CEO, Fortis Healthcare, while speaking at the launch of Season 2 of the NDTV-Fortis More To Give organ donation campaign.
Mr Singh spoke extensively about the importance of educating people about organ donation. As an example, he cited Fortis Healthcare, which spends a good amount of time in helping the families of patients understand the organ donation process. “We dedicate our own system, doctors and nurses about how to talk to people about organ donation and what information to share to dispel myths around the same,” Mr Singh further added.
For decades, myths and superstitions have held people back from pledging their organs. In India, where the organ donation rate is lowest in the world (0.08% of Indians donate their organs), the topic of organ donation struggled to receive the attention it needs. And, one of the biggest reasons for this was the lack of awareness.
“Good partnership is taking place between private sector, government sector and NGOs who are leading the movement to create organ donation awareness,” said Mr Singh.
As per the statistics shared by Dr Vimal Bhandari, Director, National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO), the donor scene is gradually picking up in the country with at least 13 lakh people pledging organs last year as compared to 9,000 in 2011. “The target set by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is 20 lakh for this year and we are approaching it,” said Dr Bhandari.
Also Read: Unsung Heroes Of Organ Donation In India
“You would be surprised to know that 20,000 Border Security Force (BSF) personnel have pledged for organ donation. Every day we are receiving over 500 pledges from BSF alone, Dr Bhandari further added.
When it comes to raising awareness about organ donation, within India Tamil Nadu is leading as an example which the rest of the country can look up to. In the last 9 years, a total of 5,385 organs have been transplanted in Tamil Nadu, according to Transplant Authority of Tamil Nadu (TRANSTAN).
“The bulk of organ donations in Tamil Nadu that we have are not from pre-signed donors. 99 percent of the donors are the ones who haven’t signed any pledges but actually donated their organs,” said Dr K R Balakrishnan, Director, Cardiac Sciences and CTVS, Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai.
“What we observed is that one positive organ donation story in the newspaper results in more people coming forward for donation,” Dr Balakrishnan further added.
Also Read: Organ Donation: What Tamil Nadu Got Right
Agreeing with the domino effect that positive coverage on organ donation actually leads to a spike in donations, Dr Avnish Seth, Director, Fortis Organ Retrieval and Transplant said, “When you have first or second organ donation in the hospital or city then everybody gets a feel that wow this is a wonderful thing to do. Then you start rolling and 8-10 organ donations happen in a short span of time. Even smaller cities like Jaipur, Indore and Pune are coming forward for organ donation,” Dr Seth added.
Adding to Dr Bhandari’s statement, Pallavi Kumar, Executive Director, Mohan Foundation said that though the pace is slow but we are in the right direction, both in terms of pledging and people who are actually going ahead and donating the organs.
Though the current organ donation rate and the demand and supply gap is huge, the rise in number of pledges showing intent to donate, as well as the example of Tamil Nadu give hope. But till lakhs continue to die waiting for organs, there will be a constant need to spread awareness and scale up the infrastructure to facilitate organ donation and transplants.