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Organ donation: needed so badly a black market thrives

A 39-year-old who tragically died as a result of a car accident has potentially saved the lives of six other individuals through his donated organs. Could the man’s loss and the lives he saved prove an inspiration to Indian to donate their own organs following their deaths?


India faces considerable shortages of organ transplants

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Ravi (whose name has been changed) was a farmer by profession. He was brought to Sparsh Super Specialty Hospital in Yeshwanthpur on February 18 following a road accident which left him with severe head injuries. The accident occurred on February 17th at 10.30 pm near Nagamangala in Mandya. Following this, he was treated at a local hospital before being moved to Sparsh.

After examination in an intensive care unit at Sparsh, Ravi was declared brain dead with no chance to recover. His family received counseling and agreed that upon his death his organs would be donated.

For many in India this is not the case. Whether through religious reasoning or a lack of knowledge regarding the potential benefit to others, very few individuals opt to donate organs on their death. This has led to severe shortages of transplants and waiting lists so long that some may even die before receiving a transplant.

Latest figures show that around 1.6 lakh patients are waiting for organs in the nation with a mere 12,000 donors available. This is a considerable shortage, indicating less than one in ten individuals will be able to receive a transplant. When considering these shortages are not evenly dispersed across the country, it is possible for entire regions to have next to no donors at all.


Silver linings, lives saved after a tragedy


The decision of Ravi’s family to donate his organs can be described as nothing less than heroic, the outcome of which was the lives of six individuals being either saved or drastically improved.

Ravi’s liver, kidneys, lungs, heart valves and corneas were donated following his death. This is an important fact as it clearly displays that a single person willing to donate their organs can save the lives of many.

If the benefits of such an action were more commonly publicised, it is likely more people would be willing to donate their organs.

In Ravi’s case his left kidney was donated to a twelve year old girl suffering from a chronic kidney condition at Sparsh Hospital. Whether potentially fatal or not, Ravi’s kidney will provide a newfound quality of life for the child.

In addition to the kidney transplant, his liver was donated to another male patient at the same hospital. His lungs were donated to an elderly patient at BGS Global Hospital and his right kidney was also provided to a senior citizen. The donated heart valves and corneas have been sent to other hospitals to be provided to other recipients.


Organ donation: a necessity needed so badly a black market thrives


The severe lack of organ donations has created a situation in India where a black market has thrived. Individuals are so desperate for donations they are willing to pay any price in a situation where their lives are often on the line. Likewise those who are in extreme poverty are often coerced by criminal gangs into selling off a kidney for a fraction of the price the gang sells it for, simply to find the money to fend off starvation.

Kidney racketing is a clear example of the situations that can arise when organ donations do not meet the number of transplants required. Recently several members of a gang have been arrested in and around Delhi, with the focal member being a doctor conducting the illegal kidney donations.

While this line of criminal activity is profitable, more individuals are likely to appear to fill the void left by the arrests. In order to reduce the instance of organ rackets, it is vital to increase the number of legal donations occurring.

Spreading information regarding the positive sides of organ donation — such as the number of individuals whose lives were saved by the donations made by Ravi and his family — could be an effective means by which to encourage others to do the same.


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