Government will get cracking on organ donation policy in
a week: Nadda

Against an annual demand of more than 2.5 lakh donors, only 10% of patients receive organs for transplant. 

Calling for a mass movement to promote organ donations across the country and save lives, Union health minister JP Nadda on Saturday said the government would take steps within a week to develop a policy mechanism and address the institutional gaps. The act of giving life, he said, should be turned into a year-round movement.

"Some mechanism has to be developed with suggestions and participation of all stakeholders. Certainly, within a week's time health ministry will develop a system to address all the issues," Nadda said at a TOI roundtable on organ donation.

Nadda said his ministry would hold detailed consultations with all stakeholders and initiate steps to institutionalize the process of organ donation and transplantation. Highlighting the gaps in awareness on the issue, Nadda said an all-inclusive approach was needed. "We cannot compartmentalize issues. We should strategize in a holistic manner to create more social awareness and simultaneously build capacity and address logistics and legal issues," he said.

Against an annual demand of more than 2.5 lakh donors, only 10% of patients receive organs for transplant.

In 2014, there were only 411 organ donors after brain death. This resulted in the transplantation of just 720 kidneys, 354 livers, 54 hearts and 16 lungs.

Identification of brain stem death was pointed out as a major challenge by doctors and other public health experts.

"There is a sheer need to enhance awareness about brain stem death among doctors. The government must make it mandatory for every ICU (intensive care unit) to immediately notify such deaths to be able to create larger pool of donors," said Dr Santosh Shetty, executive director and chief operating officer of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital.

Despite brain stem death being recognized legally since 1994, the organ donation rate in the country continues to be poor. According to health ministry data, less than 1 person (about 0.2) per million population donates organs in India, as against 36 persons per million population donating in Spain.

Nadda assured the government's full support to address all issues related to awareness building, capacity and infrastructure ramp up as well as those related to logistics and legal hurdles.