ORGAN India Envisions An Ecosystem To Enable Organ Transplants And Save Lives

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ORGAN India Envisions An Ecosystem To Enable Organ Transplants And Save Lives

ORGAN India has worked with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in setting agendas for the year and several hospitals. The NGO received the mandate to spread awareness amongst schools and other educational institutions about organ donation.

India conducts the second-largest number of organ transplants in the world. In the five years from 2013 to 2018, over 49,000 organ transplants have taken place in the country, including 39,000 living donor recipients and 10,155 deceased-donor organ recipients. The Prashar Foundation, a Delhi-based NGO, launched the initiative Organ Receiving and Giving Awareness Network (ORGAN) India in March 2013. The NGO seeks to remedy the shortage of organs in the country for transplantation and help create an ecosystem that facilitates organ transplants.

What Is Organ Donation?

Organ donation is the entire procedure of acquiring a human organ from a living or deceased human being. A recipient is a person suffering from organ failure and would not survive unless they receive a healthy organ from a fellow human being. While speaking to The Logical Indian, Anika Parashar, the Chairperson of ORGAN India, said, "In December 2012, the doctors told us that my mother's health was declining and we had to get her heart transplanted. By 2013, we had to move to Chennai because we realized limited awareness in India about organ donation. Back then, there were not many organizations that were working to spread awareness about organ donation".

She further added that although there was a national network for organ transplantation, the chances of receiving an organ in Delhi were very slim. Several states worked better and more efficiently within their realms. Anika had to move to Chennai because Tamil Nadu had the most evolved transplant system and a lot more awareness on organ donation amongst the public and therefore more donors. Several hospitals were well-connected with one another, and the Police network helped build green corridors for faster transportation of organs. While talking about the beginning of the initiative, she said, "I decided to start ORGAN India in mid-2013 because I realized that the awareness was missing. Moreover, families of the ailing patient needed the support and information they had no access to. There was a strong need for donors and recipients' families to be connected".

ORGAN India has worked with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in setting agendas for the year and several hospitals. The NGO received the mandate to spread awareness amongst schools and other educational institutions about organ donation. For instance, Anika said, "Delhi-NCR gave us the mandate to spread awareness in several schools in the region." The NGO works with village panchayats, has radio shows that reach 2 crore people annually and has done campaigns with major media houses to spread the information about the virtue of organ donation.

24x7 Helpline To Coordinate Transplants

The NGO runs a 24x7 helpline that helps to coordinate organ and tissue donations and help transplant patients receive the right advice and guidance. Only the national and state registries have the license to assign organs. However, the NGO connects people needing help with doctors, coordinators and doctors. While speaking about how the team function, Anika tells The Logical Indian, "Very often, the team is up all night to facilitate a cornea transplant or getting the family of a donor who has passed away. So, there is a lot of on-ground work that the NGO does." ORGAN India has been the first to set up an organ transplant guide, an online directory that provides information on hospitals. For instance, if someone clicks on a kidney, they would get information about the cities that facilitate kidney transplants, the hospitals that perform the procedure, laboratories, chemists. Comprehensively, the NGO endeavours to provide 360-degree information to the ailing patient.

While speaking about the entire organ transplant procedure, Anika tells The Logical Indian, "The donor has to be declared brain dead by the medical experts before beginning the procedure. However, the common myth is that anybody can donate their organs, but if someone is a cardiac patient and has died of a heart attack, they cannot donate their heart but could donate their eyes. In brain death, the person's heart is still working while the brain is dead. The medical team could then ask the family if they would want to donate their loved ones' organs".

Why Is There A Need For Increase In Awareness?

Anika emphasizes the need for awareness and says that even if the deceased wished to donate their organs before their death, they must let their families know about it. Ultimately, the family takes the call on the donation of organs since the choice is not legally binding and is just a wish. While filling in the donor pledge card, the individual expresses their desire to donate organs and presents their want to their family and gets them on the same page. She added that the country could only meet the need or the demand of the organs if they increased their supply.

While speaking about their journey, Anika shares that the trend has risen by leaps and bounds. The NGO works every year on a collaboration conclave. They bring together every NGO that works for organ donation and the National Organ Transplant Tissue Organization (NOTTO) and talk about challenges and set agendas for the next year to promote the program in the country. People are increasingly committing to donate their organs, and hospitals are working to facilitate the same.

Representing India In World Transplant Games

ORGAN India has now become the Member Organization from India for the World Transplant Games. The World Transplant Games are being held since 1978. They are the Olympics for Transplant patients. Transplant recipients and living donors represent their countries and compete internationally. Therefore, every country takes athletes who have transplanted, either donors or recipients, for the competition. India took a contingent of athletes two years ago who won 7 medals. This time, ORGAN India has been appointed by the World Transplant Games Federation to take a contingent of athletes and represent the country in the World Transplant Games in Australia in 2023. Two years ago, Anika told The Logical Indian, only 14 athletes came forward, and this year, the NGO has already got 40 athletes who have signed up for the same. As a country, India wants to make a mark in the world.​

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