Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lease of life

The media have been all agog over a heart transplant operation performed in this hospital a couple of days ago. While the coordination between the hospitals involved and the Chennai City Traffic Police was indeed commendable, not much attention has yet been given to the framework that enabled it to come about. In the 20 years since the Transplantation of Human Organs (THO) Act, 1994 was passed, Tamil Nadu has led the country by many a mile in reaping the benefits of this Act. In 2012, over 40% of the donors (and the harvested organs) were from Tamil Nadu, giving it a donation rate of 1.15/million population (Punjab with 0.43 and Kerala with 0.36 were the nearest)

Chennai, of course, has been in the vanguard of this movement. In 1999, five hospitals in the city came together to create the Indian Network for Organ Sharing, under the MOHAN Foundation. The experience with this project was encouraging and the state government came into it in 2008, setting a clear process to support such sharing - the Cadaver Transplant Programme, which has become the point of reference for other states to implement similar programmes. 

Fortis Malar, pictured here, was where the transplant was carried out on Monday evening. But there are other hospitals, both private and government-run, that have carried out similar procedures as a matter of routine. The newsworthiness of Monday's transplant was the traffic management, to ensure that the heart was moved here from the donor hospital in double-quick time. But let us also take a moment to cheer the progress achieved in making such transplants routine!

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