Mumbai sees uptick in cadaver organ donations
This year, the Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre (ZTCC) hopes to cross the 2019 numbers with the help of concentrated efforts and awareness campaigns.
Mumbai: The pandemic-hit organ donation programme appears to be picking up pace as Mumbai has clocked a dozen cadaver donations in the first three months of the year. After reaching an all-time high of 79 cadaver organ donations in 2019, the numbers dropped to 30 in 2020, and 33 in 2021. This year, the Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre (ZTCC) hopes to cross the 2019 numbers with the help of concentrated efforts and awareness campaigns.
“We are focussed on improving the deceased organ donations this year, and coordinated efforts are being taken by the intensivists, transplant coordinators, and hospital heads,” said Dr SK Mathur, president of the ZTCC.
“The ZTCC is creating public awareness through programs on radio and an organ donation task force formed by the state health minister will also help in boosting the numbers,” he said.
The organ donations came to a halt in March 2020 soon as the pandemic hit Mumbai. The ensuing lockdown brought down the number of road and train accidents, and patients with neurological ailments often turned out to have incidental Covid. Doctors said that many of the deaths happened at home. Additionally, organ donations were also halted due to fear of Covid infection. It resumed only in June 2021 after a substantial reduction in cases and the intensive care units (ICUs) became widely available for non-Covid patients.
A cadaver organ donation involves the family of a brain-dead patient consenting to donate his or her organs. While some families consent to retrieval of all organs such as kidneys, heart, liver, lungs and tissues such as skin and corneas, some allow retrieval of only a few organs. Organ donation can be made if the patient has already pledged the organs or with the consent of the relatives.
“The pandemic was a significant blow to the organ donation programme,” said Dr Akash Shukla, joint director, Regional Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (ROTTO). “Now, the non-Covid work in hospitals has resumed normally and we expect to take the organ donation numbers beyond the 2019 achievement,” he said.
The Maharashtra government has also formed a state-level task force to pull up the organ donation programme. “Our main aim is to get all the centres to identify brain deaths,” said Dr Rahul Pandit, a critical care specialist at Fortis Hospital and a member of the organ donation task force.
Doctors certify a person as brain dead when they have an irreversible brain injury, which causes total cessation of all brain stem functions. To be sure, brain death is not ‘coma’ or ‘persistent vegetative state’. As per the Indian laws, brain death can be certified by four doctors, including a neurologist or neuro-surgeon.
“At the moment, only transplant centres are largely certifying brain deaths,” said Pandit. “We also want to ensure that all centres have teams to talk to the families of potential organ donors as very often people are willing to donate but may not have the right information,” he said.