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Organ Donation in India


Recently, the critical shortage of organ donations, particularly deceased donations, has led to a dire situation in India, with thousands of patients waiting for transplants and a significant number losing their lives daily.


GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Organ Donation Landscape in India: Key Points and Disparities
  2. Challenges in Organ Donation: Key Issues and Concerns
  3. Key Highlights of New National Organ Transplantation Guidelines

Organ Donation Landscape in India: Key Points and Disparities

Demand and Supply Gap:

  • Over 300,000 patients await organ donations in India, but supply falls short.
  • Shortage leads to approximately 20 deaths daily among those awaiting transplants.

Slow Growth in Donors:

  • Donor numbers (living and deceased) have increased gradually over years.
  • From 6,916 donors in 2014, the count reached around 16,041 in 2022.

Low Deceased Organ Donation Rate:

  • India’s deceased organ donation rate remains consistently below one donor per million population.
  • Urgent efforts needed to raise this rate, unlike countries like Spain and the U.S. with higher rates.

Dominance of Living Donors:

  • Living donors make up 85% of all donors in India.
  • Deceased organ donations, especially for kidneys, liver, and heart, remain notably low.

State-Level Disparities:

  • Varied organ donation rates across Indian states.
  • States like Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Maharashtra have higher deceased organ donors.
  • Delhi-NCR, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, and West Bengal prominent for living donors.

Kidney Transplantation Disparity:

  • Demand for 200,000 kidney transplants annually greatly exceeds the supply of around 10,000 transplants.
  • A substantial gap exists in kidney transplantation in India.

Challenges in Organ Donation: Key Issues and Concerns

Awareness and Education:

  • Limited public awareness about organ donation and its significance.
  • Insufficient education among medical professionals in identifying potential donors and guiding families.

Family Reluctance:

  • Reluctance of families to give consent for organ donation, even if the deceased had expressed willingness.
  • Emotional and ethical dilemmas faced by families during organ donation decisions.

Illegal Organ Trafficking:

  • Existence of a black market for organs and illegal organ trafficking.
  • Criminal activities exploiting organ demand and undermining legitimate donation processes.

Matching Donors and Recipients:

  • Challenges in matching suitable donors and recipients based on medical compatibility.
  • Limited availability of compatible organs leading to extended waiting times for patients.

Ethical Considerations:

  • Debates on offering financial incentives to organ donors and the ethical implications.
  • Balancing the need for increased donations while maintaining ethical practices.

Infrastructure and Resources:

  • Inadequate infrastructure and resources for organ retrieval, preservation, and transplantation.
  • Challenges in timely transportation of organs across regions.

Key Highlights of New National Organ Transplantation Guidelines

Removal of Age Cap:

  • Elimination of age limit for organ recipients.
  • Improved life expectancy has led to the removal of the previous age restriction.
  • NOTTO guidelines no longer prohibit patients above 65 years from registering for organ transplants.

No Domicile Requirement:

  • Waiver of domicile requirement for organ recipient registration.
  • Implementation of a ‘One Nation, One Policy’ approach.
  • Patients can now register for organ transplants in any state, regardless of their place of residence.

No Registration Fees:

  • Removal of registration fees for organ recipient registration.
  • Several states, including Gujarat, Telangana, Maharashtra, and Kerala, have ceased charging fees for patient registration.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024