We need to increase awareness on organ donation

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Not many Rotarians may be aware that India ranks second to the United States in doing the largest number of transplants in the world. However, there remains a huge gap between those requiring transplant surgery in India and those who get it. And this is mainly due to lack of awareness, ignorance, and access to appropriate organ donors and proper medical facilities.

India’s organ donation is an estimated 0.65 per million population, and there is a crying need to promote awareness on voluntary pledge to donate organs. The government has set up the Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation at the national, zonal and regional levels to address this issue.

There are two types of organ donation, living and deceased donation. Under Indian laws, the donors and their families must agree for donating an organ. After death, the consent of an immediate family member is required. Incidentally, the Rotary Club of Pune Gandhi Bhavan, D 3131, holds a Guinness Record for making a record number of people sign up for organ donation from across 950 cities in 2018.

Kidney donation is the most popular donation in India, followed by liver transplant, with very few opting for heart and lung transplants. Rotary Club of Hyderabad has also been instrumental in setting up one of the first-of-its-kind skin bank in Telangana to aid burn and trauma patients.

While there is no data available on the rate of organ donation in India, a huge disparity remains between the demand and supply. However, with increased awareness, we can expect a larger population to donate. In 1994, the Transplantation of Human Organs Act was passed to regulate the removal, storage and transplantation of human organs; this was amended in 2011 to address inadequacies.

Non-profit organisations like Rotary are actively working to raise awareness and simplify the process of organ donation, and also increase awareness about the need to donate to help people. We have to educate our local communities that the process of pledging to donate is quite simple. But the entire process needs to be transparent as cases have been reported in the past of sale of organs, particularly kidneys.

Unfortunately, in India, only 0.01 per cent of the population has shown willingness for organ donation and to give consent to donate organs. A lot of work is still required in this area, and we Rotarians need to spread awareness on this crucial and critical service that a human being can render after he or she passes on.

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Dr Mahesh Kotbagi
RI Director, 2021–23

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