M3 Features

New initiative on organ transplant by the West Bengal government

May 7, 2015

West Bengal is turning a new leaf in organ transplantation; it is making massive improvements in the infrastructure for the procurement and transplantation of different organs from dead bodies in the state-operated hospitals. At the same time, a set of rules is being encoded for keeping an eye on such transplantation in private hospitals as well.

Transplantation of an organ or tissue from a deceased and usually unrelated donor is called cadaveric transplant (‘cadaveric’ is the adjectival form of ‘cadaver’, which means ‘a dead human body’). The passing of the Transplantation of Human Organs (THO) Act in 1994 made possible multi-organ transplantation activity from brain-dead donors. The Act legalised the concept of brain death and facilitated organ procurement from heart-beating, brain-dead donors.

The thrust towards cadaveric organ transplantation is a much-needed one. It ensures a ready availability of organs, and because of this, it also has the potential for eliminating the illegal trade in organs, whose victims are mostly the poor. Hence, it has a big social role to play. Cities like Mumbai and Chennai are doing well in this respect; such transplantation has been a regular feature for the past few years. In 2014 alone, Chennai recorded 80 cadaveric transplantations and Mumbai, 71. Now, Kolkata is on its way to join that league as well.

Towards ending the lack of such transplantations, the West Bengal government has planned the creation of a State Organ and Tissue Transplant Centre. It is to come up either at RG Kar Medical College or at NRS Medical College in Kolkata.

Also, a separate cell is being at up at Swasthya Bhawan, the state health headquarters, to promote cadaveric transplantation in the state. Because it is not just about taking organs from a dead person and storing them under proper conditions. What is also needed is the facility for quick transfer in cases of emergency; for which coordination between different people and departments is needed – the donor’s and patient’s families, police and administration. Also, a lot of awareness needs to be created in order to convince people to donate their organs (which are in a good state) after their deaths.

Besides these measures, a 21-member committee is being set up by the state health department to monitor all aspects of such transplantation in the private hospitals of West Bengal.

Feature image: Mohan Foundation

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