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Kerala’s movement for organ donation

Although transplantation rates in the country are on the rise, these rates are still considerably lower than more developed nations. Reasons include lack of clear policy and awareness, education levels and infrastructure. As some regions in the country still need a lot of effort in order to reduce the gap between the offer and demand with regards to organ donation, the southern states are paving the way as like minded health professionals are uniting to push organ donations programs forward.  Following in the footsteps of states such as Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, the state of Kerala is now at the center of attention as a popular wide movement is taking place regarding organ donation.

Since the 1980’s, the state has been a major pioneer in the development of public health in matters ranging from almost complete literacy to low infant mortality rates. As India lacks a reliable centralised system accounting for available organs, the state of Kerala, in 2012, implemented its agency in order to track and coordinate available organs for use in transplantation: the Kerala Network for Organ Sharing (KNOS).

The agency aims to increase the use of cadaveric organs, as it is not a widespread practice. Kerala also aims to increase the number of donors from patients with complete and irreversible loss of brain function (brain dead) following an accident. This is an issue generally faced by many states in the country as doctors are reluctant to pronounce a patient as deceased if the heart still shows signs of activity. Indeed, in terms of medical practice, it is widely accepted that cessation of cardiac activity is not required to declare a patient as deceased.

The success of the KNOS is beginning to be felt. As an example, the quantity of kidneys from cadaveric donors has sharply risen from 4 percent in 2012, to 17 percent in 2015.

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