Thousands await organ transplant despite steady rise in pledges

Published on March 9, 2022 by

While there is a steady increase in the number of people pledging their organs after death, there are still thousands waiting for an organ before it’s too late.


Bengaluru: The number of people in Karnataka who are pledging their organs after their death has shot up over the previous year. Organ donations, especially kidney donation, have also witnessed a rise in numbers. Shobha N., transplant coordinator at State Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization of Karnataka (SOTTO), said, “In 2020, 45 people had pledged their organs online. By the end of 2021, 7,845 people had enrolled themselves as pledgers. This has happened because of the various awareness programs that SOTTO does, and also because now people are getting inspired by the death of celebrities such as Vijay Sanchari and Punith Rajkumar and pledging their organs. Counseling to family of accident victims has helped too.”

According to her, kidney donation has gone up the most, from 53 in 2020 to 92 in 2021. There are currently 3,832 people on the wait list for kidneys. Despite the number of pledgers going up, there is a demand-supply gap in organ transplantation. While some people get kidneys from their families, others have to depend on cadaver donations.

Shilpa Sadiwala, daughter of a recipient on the wait list, said, “My mother’s kidney is damaged because of diabetes, and dialysis is going on. She needs a kidney transplant.” She added that they have been on the wait list for about a year now.

The wait list is anywhere between one and four years long, depending on the blood group. If harvested in time, one donor can help two people live a healthy, dialysis-free life.

Stanislaus Joseph, physician assistant and transplant coordinator at Manipal Hospital, said, “The waiting list is huge. On average, every hospital has about 50 people on the waiting list for kidneys. The gap (in demand and supply of organs) is because awareness among general public is lacking. Families are too attached; they also think the hospital will sell the organs illegally to earn money. Media awareness of organ donation will be very beneficial. After the family donates the organs, there is a police procedure, clarification, post mortem needs to be done, (and) lots of legal issues are there. It can take up to 24 hours.”

He says that the numbers have started to go up in the last six months. While there is positivity when it comes to the number of organ pledgers, thousands still wait to get an organ in time.


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