It is probably the most difficult decision to make, but the people of Tamil Nadu have set an example for the rest of the country to follow. The state has recorded a stunning 80 per cent ‘conversion rate’, coming out as the most generous in the world, when it comes to donating a loved ones’ organs.
“By ‘conversion rate’ we mean that 80 per cent of families approached by our grief counsellors, agreed to pull the plug and donate their loved ones’ organs. Even in developed countries like USA where nearly everyone pledges their organs on their drivers’ license, only 50 per cent of families can be convinced to donate organs,” explains Dr Sunil Shroff, managing trustee of Mohan foundation.
There have been 268 organ donors from Tamil Nadu since the program began in 2008 — 52 hearts, 6 lungs, 239 livers and 487 kidneys have been harvested from brain dead accident victims and given to terminally ill people. In addition, there were hundreds of tissues like heart valves, corneas and skin that were retrieved.
Thanks to a motivated network of doctors who declare the brain death, intensivists who maintain the cadaver on life support and transplant co-ordinators who convince the bereaved families and guide them through the load of paperwork required for the consent, the state has a record cadaver organ donation rate of 1.3 million per population, which is 15 times the national average.
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Apollo Transplant Institutes have become the busiest solid organ transplant programmes in the world, having conducted 929 liver,kidney and heart transplants during 2011.
Addressing the media on this occasion, Dr. Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group said, “Our aim at the Apollo Transplant Institutes is to be the best centre for transplantation in the world.”
There is a huge shortage of organs in India and patients die while on the waiting list as they do not get an organ on time. A brain-dead person’s organs can give a new lease of life to at least nine patients suffering from organ failure.
Around 7.85 million people suffer from chronic kidney failure in India. At present, in India, the approximate prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is 800 per million population (pmp), and the incidence of end-stage kidney disease is 150-200 pmp. Nearly 3,500 transplants are done annually as against the need for 210,000 kidney transplants.
With 230 instances of organ donations from October 2008 till now, Tamil Nadu is the undisputed leader in organ donations in the country. A total of 1,318 organs and tissues have been harvested. These have saved many lives. Yet, these figures are nothing but a tip of the huge iceberg of demand for organs.