Make Brain Death Notification Must

Almost 3.5 lakh people die every year due to organ failure, though the list of willing donors is growing. This is because, too often doctors do not notify brain deaths leading to wastage of many organs medical experts said while advocating a move to make notification of brain stem death mandatory.

Though brain death is recognized legally in India, lack of awareness among doctors often results in wastage of many vital organs. Almost 37 different organs and tissues including vital organs such as kidneys, heart, liver and lungs can be donated after brain death, whereas only a few such as cornea, bone, skin and blood vessels can be donated after natural death.

Doctors from public as well private hospitals including Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Max Hospital and GB Pant along with representatives from government institutions like National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) on Saturday, submitted their recommendations to health minister J P Nadda to promote organ donations and transplants in India. NOTTO is a national registry for organ donation set up under the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

Key suggestions, following a TOI roundtable discussion on the issue, included increasing awareness of brain death and certification of the same amongst doctors, ramping up of infrastructure mainly in government hospitals, medical insurance for living donors, initiation of transplant programmes in all medical colleges etc

Santosh Shetty, ED and COO at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital said the largest pool of donors are in government hospitals. However, many organs are wasted in the absence of facilities for transplants.

Highlighting a need for all India campaign, Dr N S Dharmshaktu, additional DG at DGHS, said the Centre needs to encourage more states to take proactive measures to promote organ donation and transplant. While states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka have already developed registry and database for organs, there are many others who are lagging far behind.

Representatives from NOTTO also sought autonomy for the body in order to take quick decisions when lives are at stake.

Nadda, who was heading the roundtable discussion, assured that the health ministry will soon devise a system for regular stakeholder consultations to address these concerns and develop a policy mechanism to promote organ donations and transplants across the country.

"We will provide support to address all the areas including creation of more social awareness, capacity building, logistics and also in order to address legal issues," Nadda said.

Doctors also suggested it is time for India to move towards presumed consent in case of brain death.