10 things you need to know about an organ transplant in India

By: Jasmine Marfatia

Published On: July 11, 2018

We tell you everything you need to know about organ donation in India. Read on!

The need for organ transplants in India is greater than ever. We explore the legal, financial, emotional, and medical implications of getting an organ transplant in India.

In India, every year, nearly 5,00,000 people die because of the unavailability of an organ that could have saved their lives. Imagine a situation where your loved one is battling a severe illness, and the only way to overcome it, is to replace the dysfunctional organ. You apply for an organ transplant in India, and the endless wait begins. 

The fact that the rate of organ donation in India is only 0.26% per million people, might be attributed to the reason that not enough people are aware about the importance of it and the number of lives that each one has an opportunity to save. 

Other reasons may be due to fear, religious reasons, or emotional attachment to family members.One organ donor can save 8 lives! 

This is why more and more people in India need to become conscious and aware of how their organs can save lives after their death. But before doing so, there are certain things you need to know about organ donation and organ transplantation. This article will briefly discuss everything you need to know.What is organ transplant?

Organ transplantation is the process of using the healthy organs of an individual for the purpose of transplantation into another patient’s body. For this, individuals must consent to donate their organs. Organ donations are of two types - living donations and cadaver deceased donations.

  1. Living Donations

As the title suggests, living donors can donate an organ while they are still alive. Living donations can only be done for liver and kidney transplants, where only a small part of the organ is removed and transplanted into the recipient. 

  1. Cadaver/ Deceased Donations

For deceased donations, the transplant can only take place following the legal requirements of the procedure, including the definition of death and consent of an individual while he/she is living. 

In case of deceased donors, the various human organs that can be transplanted to another person include: heart, liver, kidney, lungs, pancreas, intestines, and tissues.Who can be an organ donor?

There are very few limitations (fear, religious reasons, or emotional attachment of family members) for who can donate their organs. Anyone can decide to be an organ donor, irrespective of their age, race,or gender. 

A medical assessment done by medical professionals determines the health and suitability of each organ before it is retrieved from the donor’s body, for both, living and deceased donors. 

Organs are matched using characteristics like blood type and size of the organ needed. Also taken into account is how long someone has been on the waiting list, how sick they are, and the distance between the donor and the potential recipient.

What are the legal requirements of getting an organ transplant in India?

The process of organ transplantation can only take place following the legal requirements of the procedure: 

  • Donors below the age of 18 require consent from a legal guardian.

  • Definition of death and consent of an individual while he/she is living.

  • Following the death of an individual, medical professionals must consider the medical history, past diseases and illnesses of the deceased donor, before an organ can be used for transplantation.

  • The organs of the donor and the recipient need to be matched before the transplantation process.
    Organ donation procedure in India

Organ allocation is a vital part of any organ donation program. Organ allocation must always be based on an ethical principle or sharing an equality. 

For that the Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre, based in Mumbai, formed by the Appropriate authority by a government resolution in the year 2001 is responsible. They have four main objectives:

  1.  Implement the deceased donor program as per THOA (Transplantation of Human Organ Act) 1994.

  2. Ensure fair and equal availability of cadaveric organs (deceased donor organs) by maintaining a wait list.

  3. Increase patient access to state of art transplant technology.

  4. Increase the donor rate in India.

How does one register to receive an organ transplant in India?

  1. Register yourself with the Zonal Transplant Coordination Center (ZTCC) for cadaveric donations, as per your need, and get an NOC.

  1. The ZTCC maintains the computerized waiting list, blood group wise, for each organ like kidney, liver, heart and lung, as per the priority criteria given in the Maharashtra State guidelines. All the registered transplant hospitals send the information of the patients who require organ in the prescribed form for listing. 

Organ transplant cost in India

The cost for transplantation of an organ in India varies based on several factors - for instance, a bone marrow transplant can cost anything between 25 lakhs to 50 lakhs, while a kidney transplant can cost anything between 5 lakhs to 25 lakhs. For a detailed comparison of the average cost of major transplants, you may read this link.

How to raise money for organ transplant?

The three most common ways to raise funds for any medical treatment are 

1) Medical loans 

2) Medical insurance 

3) Medical fundraising. However, it is important to note that medical loans are granted at unaffordable interest rates or against personal assets, and many loan applicants are rejected if they are from a weaker financial background. 

Medical insurances on the other hand can be quite expensive, and an average insurance policy is gravely insufficient to cover the cost of event a basic transplant. Online fundraisers through crowdfunding websites are a great way for organ recipients to raise money for the transplant, without wiping out their savings.How to check the suitability of an organ?

Every available organ has to go through a series of tests. In case the result is negative, the doctor does not approve the transplant.

  • Blood Type Testing: This test for finding one’s ABO blood group so that there is no mismatching in the blood groups.

  • Serology: Another blood test to check for transmissible diseases like HIV, CMV and hepatitis.

  • Crossmatch:  This test determines If the recipient's antibodies will accept or reject the donor kidney.

  • Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA): This is a blood test is also known as tissue typing.

Once the medical testing is complete, a surgical team is mobilized to carry out the transplant procedure. 

Are you making the decision to be a donor?

Being an organ donor is an important and difficult decision, but it is one that can save and improve innumerable lives. 

  • The lives you can save

Not enough people are even aware that their body can save another person if they opt for it. The need for increase in organ and tissue donations cannot be emphasized enough. 

Everyday, over 18 individuals lose their life waiting on a transplant list. The impact of being a donor will be felt strongly and appreciated immensely by the recipients and their families. 

  • Discuss your decision with your family

Becoming a donor is not an easy decision to make, especially since the families of deceased donors are are very emotionally vulnerable at the time of their loved one’s death. 

It is important that the donor discusses this decision with their family before hand, and makes their intentions clear, because the organs cannot be retrieved without the family’s final consent.

  • There is no disfigurement of the body

A common misconception is that the donor’s body is harmed or disfigured in the process of retrieving organs. This is not true. The procedure is done very carefully by medical professionals, and the deceased individual's body is given to the family in a dignified manner, for final rights. 

  • You can donate even during your lifetime A lot of people are unaware of the fact that you can be a living donor as well. A proper medical assessment and suitability of the organ in question is done, with consent of the individual. 

  • While not all organs can be donated by living donors, organs like a part of the liver, or a single kidney, can be donated to help another in need.

How to register for organ donation?

To be an organ donor one must:

  1. Register by filling and organ pledge form. The registration form can be downloaded from the National Organ and Tissue Transplantation website. A form can also be collected from a medical facility. 

  2. You will then receive an organ donor card that should be kept with you at all times. 

  3. A donor must have the signatures of at least two witnesses on the card.

  4. In the event of a donor’s death (brain death or cardiac death), medical professionals will refer to the card for your donation intentions, and contact the family for further consent.

  5. Only after receiving formal consent from the family, can the donor’s organs be retrieved in a hospital.

  6. The hospital looks after all costs, logistics, and coordinations during this process. 

  7. The deceased donor’s body is given back to the family for final rights.

Here are a few NGOs where you can register for organ donation:

1. Mohan Foundation 

2. Shatayu

3. Gift Your organ

4. Gift a Life

Organ donation literally translates to ‘giving the gift of life’. If all of us pledge to donate our organs after they have served our body, imagine the number of lives we could save everyday! 

We suggest you also read:

7 Ideas To Run A Successful Kidney Transplant Fundraising Campaign

5 Common Myths About Blood Donation Debunked

If you have any feedback or comments related to this article, reach out to us at engage@impactguru.com

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