Organ donation hits brain death hurdle

GURGAON: Haryana is fast emerging as a significant transplant state with many leading hospitals undertaking transplants.

With this in mind, a first-of-its-kind meeting, ‘Deceased Organ Donation Stakeholders Meeting of Haryana’, was organized by Mohan Foundation on Friday in the city. Medanta, Artemis, Fortis, Paras and Alchemist are among the hospitals where transplants are done.

One of the biggest roadblocks to organ donation is the identification and declaration of ‘brain death’. Hospitals generally shy away from declaring brain death fearing public backlash as it is a concept not very well understood in India. The stakeholders in the meeting, therefore, laid out a roadmap to give an impetus to deceased organ donations in the state.

Talking about the challenges in medico-legal cases, Dr Deepak Mathur, forensic expert, Civil Hospital, Gurgaon, said, “Many brain death cases are medico-legal cases and the support of police and the forensic department becomes paramount. Like in Tamil Nadu, efforts should be made to pass government orders to streamline these processes so as to take timely action and retrieve organs with minimum discomfort to the donating families.”

“Families of patients are sometimes very cautious. I think social workers can counsel the families and play an important role in making them understand the concept of organ donation,” said Dr Anil Kumar, CMO, DGHS, ministry of health & family welfare.

The panel debated if brain death declaration could be made mandatory by the government and it was felt that while there was nothing illegal about doing so, it would be perhaps better if individual hospitals could themselves put systems in place to conduct audits on the number of brain deaths each month.

“The event was a first-of-its-kind initiative in Haryana organized with an overarching objective of giving an impetus to the deceased organ donation scenario in the state by bringing together medical professionals from government hospitals, corporate hospitals, policy planners, police officers, forensic experts, media and NGOs to discuss and lay out a roadmap to give an impetus to deceased organ donations in Haryana,” said Pallavi Kumar, executive director (Delhi-NCR), Mohan Foundation.

Other issues, such as the role of the government and the media in creating public awareness, were also discussed. It was unanimously agreed that large-scale campaigns by the government and media houses are the need of the hour.