AORTA – LIFELINE OF THE ARMED FORCES

In the year 2007 a team of about forty medical personnel, including doctors and paramedics were sent to United Kingdom to imbibe all aspects of transplantation and organ donation. It was when they returned back, bubbling with knowledge and enthusiasm, to start Armed Forces deceased donor transplant programme that they realized it was a real uphill task. They had to face lots of scepticism almost bordering to opposition from medical and non-medical fraternity. They were questioned about every aspect, from the need to sustainability. The cynics were proved wrong and today we are proud to say that ours is one of the largest and most successful deceased donor transplant programme in the Government sector.

The journey began by taking the challenge head on with the precision of a military operation. Ours was going to be predominantly a deceased donor transplant programme. With this aim we established Armed Forces Organ Retrieval & Transplantation Authority (AORTA). The broad objective of which was spreading awareness about organ donation, coordinating organ retrievals and organ sharing.

Under the umbrella of AORTA we started awareness drive among medical fraternity, among administrators and among target population with full gusto. Initially workshops, updates and lectures were conducted across all military medical establishments and this was relatively easy job. The tough part was convincing the authorities and policy makers. Series of presentations and meeting with authorities made some dent, they were convinced that the project was viable economically and likely to be successful even in a Government set up. This achieved, we organised a big event to formally launch our programme. We roped in political bigwigs, celebrities and well known people and this made the event of launch a big success. With this followed media coverage and some much wanted good publicity. The first deceased donor multi-organ transplantation immediately followed which was icing on the cake and the programme took off. That was April of 2007 and today we have done more than 1000 kidney transplants and 108 liver transplants with 73 of them being deceased donor liver transplants.

Here are two of the recipients who received organs at the Army Hospital in Delhi which has given them a new life.

Along the way we did learn a few lessons. Firstly for promoting organ donation honouring donor families and giving them publicity makes them into heroes in their community. This acts as great motivation tool for others to follow. Healthy recipients act as the band ambassadors make full use of them for spreading the word. Showcasing success stories definitely improves organ donation rates. Perseverance directly translates into more donations. Do not give up even if relatives refuse at the first instance, maintain the brain dead well in ICU, we had relatives agreeing after 48 hours after initial refusal. As for medical legal cases, no two situations are the same, ‘jugad’ and ‘lageraho’ helps. Keep staff well motivated and trained and make sure one is prepared to leave for retrieval at short notice and at odd hours. We must admit that being in Armed Forces we had a certain advantage, convincing relatives is little easier because of inherent feeling of camaraderie. Another great advantage is the ready availability of aircraft, 24X7, kind courtesy the Indian Airforce. We have had organs flown in from across the country and this as some of you may know, was widely projected in media recently.

To further increase organ donation and retrieval we lobbied and got amendment made in THOA rule in 2014. Now Armed forces hospitals across the country are regarded as one state for the purpose of organ retrieval. We were successful in getting the amendment made because our recipients do not belong to any one particular state. This has reduced the hurdle of taking sanction of state authorities. Organs retrieved in any state are now quickly brought to Delhi which has our main transplant centre. We still are under process of getting permission and registering many other small military hospitals across the country with ICUs’ as non-transplant organ retrieval centres. With this we are sure that availability of organs will increase to such extend that we would be sharing organs with other centres on regular basis.

To conclude, though it may sounds clichéd, what really worked for us is that we have a team that is passionate about programme, has an attitude of not giving up easily and which always strive to improve.

JAI HIND

Col. Dr. Pankaj. P. Rao

Col. Dr. Pankaj. P. Rao is alumnus of Armed Forces Medical College, Pune form where he did his graduation and further post-graduation in general surgery. He later underwent a two years training in GI Surgery at All India Institute of Medical Sciences. He served in various Military Hospitals of India Army across the country he got interested in organ transplantation and organ donation. Since last five years he is actively involved in the liver transplantation programme at the Army Hospital (R&R), Delhi. He is presently heading the liver transplant centre there and is actively involved in spreading the awareness of organ donations as part of Armed Forces Organ Retrieval & Transplantation Authority (AORTA).

28 Comments

  1. Shankar · December 27, 2015 Reply

    Dear dr pankaj sir

    You and your team are doing a divine work of giving life to those who almost have lost all hopes ! The families who find a donar can save their near and dear ones and cherish but it is the courage of the donar family who wants their near and dear ones to live longer in other bodies and save a life ! The feeling is full of happiness but difficult in society and only awareness will make it easy for you , we all pledge to increase the awareness in the society and contribute modestly towards ur mission ! Salutes to indian army and your team for the great work ! Proud of all of your team and we appreciate all your efforts ! Cheers

  2. Dr Vivek. Patil · December 27, 2015 Reply

    Great job and salute to your hard work !

  3. Dr Ravindra V Ghongade · December 28, 2015 Reply

    Good work.Keep going .All the best for your future

  4. priyadarshini · December 28, 2015 Reply

    Pankaj, great work!
    Congratulations and all the best for your future endevours. Proud to know you and know your contribution to the society!

  5. dr vaishali chavan · December 28, 2015 Reply

    pankaj ..great work ..!! wish you all the best !!

  6. Vijaya athavale · December 29, 2015 Reply

    Congratulations to Dr panķaj

  7. N G Menon · January 11, 2016 Reply

    Sir please accept my best wishes to the responsibility of U r working for. I am rtd sub/ ora NGK Menon holding Donor Card No 3909 dtd 01.04.09. Now I am working in Indian Rly at Mugat rly station ( near Nanded) . I have a request to u that if possible Pl keep me informative in latest informations in this subject . Jai AMC& JAI hind.

  8. Dr.Vikas Agarwal · February 15, 2016 Reply

    Good Job Sir.

    Regrads
    Dr.Vikas Agarwal
    8588097965

  9. vineet Bhatt · March 17, 2016 Reply

    Great Sir,.. Such types of persons still exits.. I am proud of you Sir.

  10. Kumar Ranjan · April 17, 2016 Reply

    Dear sir,
    Plz guide me about the process of organ donation. I intend to donate my body, in case of my death for use Indian Army.
    Best Regards
    Kumar Ranjan

  11. Mani Handa · June 2, 2016 Reply

    Tremendous work. How do I register?

  12. Savitha · October 1, 2016 Reply

    Hi sir. After reading about aorta, I have registered myself on organindia.org. I want my organs to be transplantedited to armed forces personnel only. How do I specify that?

  13. Parmod kumar · February 24, 2017 Reply

    Dear Sir
    MY name is Parmod Kumar and I lost my Organ Donor Card. I want to how can I find a second card.

  14. Santosh Kumar Rathore · February 27, 2017 Reply

    Namaskar sir
    Sir mera naam santosh kumar rathore he me apni body military hospital me donet karna chahta hu
    Me chahta hu ki mera dil ek fouji ke
    Sharir me dhadke mere body ke sare ang military ke kaam aaye to se please muje rules batay taki me apni
    Body donet kar saku

    • ORGAN India
      ORGAN India · August 27, 2018 Reply

      Dear Santosh,

      Please log on to http://www.organindia.org and look through our Body Donation Directory. Depending on where you are you can find a medical institution near you through the Directory. You can then give them a call and start the formalities which would include singing a form with a few witnesses. This would definitely mean that your next of kin are aware of your decision and will carry out your wishes.

      Warm regards,
      ORGAN India Team

  15. Tapas kr. Dey · April 15, 2017 Reply

    Hello sir.
    My name is Tapas kr. Dey. My father was an
    EX Naik at EME in Indian army.
    My father need an urgent liver tranplant. Is there any possibility that we will get some help or support from ECHS for my father’s liver transplant?

  16. Gp Capt Rajiv lakhwara · May 30, 2017 Reply

    I want to donate my body along with all organs. However, being a veteran I would like to see my Armed Forces personnel to benefit from this donation first and other people after that. That is the reason I want to register my self if possible with R&R since I am a resident of Gurgaon. Can someone help

    • ORGAN India
      ORGAN India · August 27, 2018 Reply

      Dear Gp Capt. Rajiv Lakhwara,

      Please log on to http://www.organindia.org and look through our Body Donation Directory. Depending on where you are you can find a medical institution near you through the Directory. You can then give them a call and start the formalities which would include singing a form with a few witnesses. This would definitely mean that your next of kin are aware of your decision and will carry out your wishes.

      Warm regards,
      ORGAN India Team

  17. Devendra Singh Parihar · June 4, 2017 Reply

    Dear sir,
    Meri body ka har wo part Jo donateho sakta hai indian army ko donet karna chahta hoon …iske liye mujhe kya karna chahiye please batane ka kast kare

  18. Dappu naveen · June 23, 2017 Reply

    I would like to donate my organs…

  19. Lt. Col. DJ Singh (Retd) · July 14, 2017 Reply

    I wish to go in for organ donation : preferably at AH (R&R) since I too am an ex – serviceman. Please intimate me the procedure for registration. Thanx

    • ORGAN India
      ORGAN India · August 27, 2018 Reply

      Dear Lt. Col. DJ Singh (Retd)

      You can log on to http://www.organindia.org and sign up for a donor card. Call us if you have any queries. As regards R&R, you would have to go there and then pledge as there is no online option However it doens’t matter were you pledge as long as your family is aware of your decision, as they will be the ones who will carry out your wishes.

      Warm regards,
      ORGAN India Team

      Regards,
      ORGAN India Team

  20. Nandan Kumar Dey · November 24, 2017 Reply

    Hi
    I wish to donate my organs & body to the Indian Armed Forces personnel or the Indian Military hospitals.
    Please let me know the detailed procedure and how do I register myself for this cause.
    Regards…. Nandan

    • ORGAN India
      ORGAN India · August 27, 2018 Reply

      Dear Nadan,

      Please log on to http://www.organindia.org and look through our Body Donation Directory. Depending on where you are you can find a medical institution near you through the Directory. You can then give them a call and start the formalities which would include singing a form with a few witnesses. This would definitely mean that your next of kin are aware of your decision and will carry out your wishes.

      Warm regards,
      ORGAN India Team

  21. Ujwala · May 19, 2018 Reply

    Hi my name is ujwala mhaskar from Maharashtra and I want to know website name where I can donate my organ to indian military hospital or foundation…jai hind

  22. Hony capt RSReddy · August 26, 2018 Reply

    I am retired Hony capt RSReddy (ORA) from Base hospital Delhi cantt your team is doing great job Presently settled in Bangalore

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