Mumbai: Public hospitals in the city have only received five organ donations this year, as compared to the 111 donations which went to private sectors, thus calling for a more even distribution. Though the cause behind this issue is most likely the poor participation of public hospitals in the cadaver donation programme, demands have risen to improve the distribution practice.

Since 1997, 453 cadaver kidneys transplants were carried out, according to statistics from the Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC) which is in charge of organ distribution. Out of that number, the public sector received only 40 donations. It also needs to be mentioned that over the last 18 years, the four major hospitals-cum-medical colleges–KEM, Sion, Nair and JJ—collectively contributed less than 40 donations.

Liver transplants are exclusively offered in the city by the private sector. The KEM hospital in Parel ran a short unsuccessful programme and received eight livers of the 135 cadaveric transplants all over the city in the last decade. Experts comment that the city or the state would do good to follow the Tamil Nadu model or the US model in this regard.

The policy for organ sharing in Tamil Nadu directs every alternate donation, of the lungs, heart or liver, towards public hospitals, thus ensuring that both private and public sectors benefit equally from the donation programme.

The US model makes use of a central database of patients where each is attributed a ‘patient score’, which takes into account the seriousness of the patient’s condition and his/her blood group, stated the general secretary of ZTCC, Dr Sujata Patwardhan to TOI. The patient on the waiting list who has the highest ‘patient score’ gets the organ. “The hospitals do not know who is likely to get the next organ. It depends on the patient’s score,” she said.

Questions often crop up with an increase in awareness, as to who benefits from the donations, remarked a senior transplant coordinator. “In public hospitals, particularly, donor families always want to know if the hospital or anybody else will monetarily benefit from the donation. It is in the larger interest of the programme that more donations as well as transplants happen in the public sector,” added the senior coordinator.

Dr Sanjay Nagral, a liver transplant surgeon opined that public hospitals could very well carry out more kidney transplants as they were less complicated than liver transplants, which are still largely carried out in private hospitals, even in Tamil Nadu.

Director of the major BMC hospitals, Dr Suhasini Nagda, said that a major issue in the public hospitals of the city is cadaver identification, though steps are being taken to rectify that.

However, Union Health Minister JP Nadda at the sixth Indian Organ Donation Day at Vigyan Bhavan, Delhi, said that the government has taken initiatives to open facilities for organ transplantation in public hospitals. Steps are also being taken to improve the number of donations.

“We have also decided to train the paramedics in hospitals and sensitise them about organ donation, so that they can further pitch about the issue in the society,” said Nadda.

The minister has also called upon individuals, NGOs and voluntary organisations to come forward and work with the health ministry.

Public sector suffers as organ donations go to private hospitals