Liver Transplant in India - News
Liver Transplant in India
- News - 2
Harshita is no
more, yet she lives on
NEW DELHI: Seventeen-year-old Harshita was declared brain dead on April 29 at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital here. But today, she lives on through the lives of five other people who were donated her organs. Her father, Mahender Bharech, who, along with his wife, Asha, took the tough decision to donate his daughter's organs, admitted to as much at a press conference on Saturday.
"Letting my daughter go was the most difficult decision that I have had to take. But what gives me the strength to go on is the fact that she continues to live in the hearts and lives of the people whom she had helped," said Mr. Bharech, who decided to donate Harshita's organs.
Harshita was hospitalised for ulcerative colitis with bilateral hemorrhagic infarct. A decompression surgery was performed but prognosis remained grave. She was declared brain dead, and her parents decided to let their daughter go so that her retrieved organs could give a new lease of life to others.
"Through her donation, Harshita has managed to save the lives of five other people. Doctors at the hospital were successful in retrieving her kidneys, liver, corneas and heart valves. Already, Harshita's liver and one of her kidney have been successfully transplanted into two of Sir Ganga Ram's in-patients. The other organs were shared with other transplant centres in the city. Of course, it goes without saying that it required tremendous faith and goodwill on the part of Harshita's parents to make this gesture," said the hospital's Management Board chairman B.K. Rao, while announcing the successful donation.
Still coming to terms with his personal loss, Mr. Bharech said: "When the doctors at the hospital told us that our daughter was brain dead and that there was very little chance of even a miracle happening, I turned to my wife and son. My son told me I should let Harshita go and ensure that her organs were donated. His conviction on the issue made me sure that we were on the right path and that we had to let our daughter go.
"This isn't the first time that we have had people donating organs in the family. My father and mother donated their eyes and though I wanted my daughter to stay with me, no matter her state, the doctors were giving her back to me and I also had to look at the practical side of it. The decision to let my child go hasn't been an easy one but my family was sure that this was best for Harshita. Today, we want to promote a powerful campaign for organ donation to ensure that there are more donors," he said.
His wife also insisted that the family took the right decision. "I believe that my daughter continues to live through the people who have had a new lease of life because of her organ donation." Also present at the conference were teachers and friends of Harshita who had come to support the family.
Govt Can Pitch in to Bring Down Liver Transplant Costs
Lack of cadaveric donors is affecting organ donation in the country, says Dr Arvinder Singh Soin, chief hepatobiliary and liver transplant surgeon at Medanta-The Medicity, Gurgaon. Dr Soin, who also offers consultation at Columbia Asia Hospital, Yeshwantpur, suggests ways to bring down the cost of a liver transplant. Excerpts from an interview:
Has the cost of liver transplants increased over the last few decades?
In the late 90s, when the first successful liver transplants were done in India, the procedure cost Rs.20 lakh. Now, a resection may cost anywhere between Rs.3 and 4 lakh and a transplant Rs.20-25 lakh in a private hospital. It has not changed much. We cannot increase the costs because the procedure will then be inaccessible to people. So, we have curtailed it. It is an intrinsically expensive procedure.
How many transplants are needed each year?
About 20 to 25 people per million need liver transplants. In India, the requirement is 20,000 to 30,000 per year. Karnataka needs more than 1,000 a year.
Why is the procedure expensive?
It takes Rs.20-25 crore to set up a liver transplant centre. You need people who are trained — experienced doctors, anaesthetists, hepatologists, intensive care specialists. Along with them, you also need nurses. The procedure involves high-end instruments, medicines and blood products and medicines alone cost Rs.10-12 lakh. The ICU set-up is also different and it all adds up to the cost.
Do people have less expensive alternatives where they can get the surgery done?
Unfortunately, not many government hospitals are doing this procedure. But there is a way out. The government should divide the country into 10 to 15 regions and have a Centre of Excellence in each region where liver transplant surgery is done at a lower cost so that that people from lower socio-economic strata can also get it done.
How can the cost be brought down?
The main thing is to cut duties on importing life-saving essential medicines and instruments. Surgical instruments are very expensive and most of them are imported. Medicines should be manufactured locally and generic medicines should be developed and used, which cost only 20 to 50 per cent of the price of branded products. Also, increasing medical insurance cover for patients will bring down costs.
It is said that there is a shortage of liver donors. What is causing this shortage and how is it being addressed?
At present, 80 pc are live donors and the rest are cadaveric. Anywhere between 20,000 and 30,000 people need liver transplants each year, but we get only 400 to 450 cadaveric donors. Donation rates need to go up 100 times to fulfill the need which is being bridged by live donors. But no healthy person will have to undergo liver surgery if there were enough cadaveric donors.
Why are there very few cadaveric donors?
A lot of myths surround cadaveric donations which is preventing families from coming forward to give consent. They should know that if a person or relative is brain dead and being kept on life support, their liver can be donated to save another person’s life. Nothing will happen to the donor in their next life if they give their liver away. The government has to pitch in and create a national programme to create more awareness on cadaveric donations.
Among live donors, are men more willing to donate, or women?
Surprisingly, more women come forward to donate than men, so there is clearly gender bias. The ratio is 60:40. Live donors should ideally be within the recipient’s family and it could be said that more women come forward due to emotional coercion.
By Sharadha Kalyanam - BANGALORE Published: 13th April 2014 08:46 AM Last Updated: 13th April 2014 08:47 AM
Liver Transplant in India - News - 2
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