Organ donation should be made compulsory in India: experts

New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) Lack of strong policies to make organ donation compulsory leads to the death of over five lakh people every year in India, health experts said on Friday.

The experts stated that though India’s population stands at 1.2 billion, only 0.08 percent of the people give consent to donate their organs. In the West, 10-20 percent of the population were ready to part with organs.

In India, over two lakh people die every year without getting liver while 50,000 people die while searching for heart replacement. One lakh die without getting cornea.

“Each year, thousands die while waiting for a transplant, because no suitable donor can be found. The need for organ donors has never been greater. In India even if people are completely eligible to be organ donor, they do not give their consent to donate their organs,” said P.K. Bhardwaj, Medical Director of the Saroj Super Speciality Hospital.

He said the only reason Singapore, Belgium and Spain had a good number of organ donors was because of their aggressive approach, which permitted organ donation by default unless the donor had explicitly opposed it during his lifetime.

“The percentage of organ donation in such countries is 20-40 percent of their total population,” he said.

According to medical sciences, the organ that can be donated are kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, small bowel and pancreas.

“Tissues that can be donated include eyes, heart valves, bone, skin, veins and tendons. Vital organs like heart, liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs and pancreas can be donated only in case of brain death,” said Bhardwaj.

Priyanshu Raina, a senior surgeon with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, stated that in a country like India religious leaders can be roped in to educate people about the importance of organ donation. Many Indians do not donate organs, considering this to be a sin.

According to the Organ Retrieval Banking Organisation of AIIMS, over 22,500 people across India have registered since 2010 to donate organs after their death.

Pius Jain, a senior surgeon at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, said there was a need for a registry to understand who and where potential donors are.

“A registry gives a planner enough information to devise strategies to get more public cooperation and commitment towards organ donation. Having a registry in place allows doctors and transplant coordinators to check if a brain dead person wished to donate and then approach the family for consent,” he said.

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