Hyderabad: Till a few years ago, liver transplant surgery was relatively rare and very few transplant centres in Hyderabad at that time had mastered the standards, quality and results of such complex and expensive procedures.
Fast forward to 2019, almost all the major corporate hospitals in Hyderabad now have full-fledged liver transplantation units with top-of-the-line infrastructure and highly trained surgeons. Almost every weekend in Hyderabad, senior surgeons from corporate hospitals organise continuing medical education programme for young surgeons on liver transplant, which reflects the growing popularity and the potential that liver transplant procedures have in the coming future.
Along with liver transplants, kidney transplants have also continued to register growth in the last few years. In fact, kidney and liver transplants are the top two surgeries that take place under the State-run Jeevandan cadaver organ donation programme.
Since the launch of Jeevandan initiative in 2013, there have been 1,094 kidney donations and 650 liver transplant surgeries. Apart from that, in the last six years, there have been close to 10 kidney-pancreas, 26 dual kidney and 8 kidney-liver donations from single brain dead patients, a clear indication of a large number of kidney and liver transplant surgeries being taken up in Hyderabad.
Corporate hospitals dominate
While State-run tertiary hospitals, including Gandhi Hospital and Osmania General Hospital (OGH), have taken up transplant surgeries in the past, the fact remains that corporate hospitals in Hyderabad are the driving force behind kidney and liver transplants and in effect the Jeevandan initiative.
Almost 95 per cent of the kidney and liver transplant surgeries under Jeevandan are conducted at private transplant facilities. In fact, the programme is fuelled by private transplant facilities as they continue to heavily invest and develop world-class infrastructure around cadaver kidney and liver transplant surgeries.
Between 2013 and September 2019, there had been 689 brain dead donors, of which Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) has taken up 19 donations, Osmania General Hospital (OGH) eight while the rest had been taken up at corporate hospitals in Hyderabad.
The top corporate hospitals in Hyderabad that have dedicated infrastructure facilities, especially for kidney and liver transplants, include KIMS Hospital, which has raised 137 organ donations, Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills, that has raised 117 organ donations and the three-branches of Yashoda Hospitals at Somajiguda, Secunderabad and Malakpet combined have raised 173 organ donations in the last six years.
Kidney and liver transplant markets growing
Based on the data and research by several pharmaceutical companies, in the next half a decade, the kidney and liver transplant market worldwide, in terms of market share and economics and regulatory factors, is set to grow exponentially.
In the last few years, even the economic factors surrounding kidney and liver transplants have come down. Thanks to the coverage under Aarogyasri, even the economically weaker sections are eligible for such transplants.
At present, cadaver kidney transplant in Hyderabad hovers between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 7 lakh while liver transplant surgeries are between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 18 lakh. A few years ago, the liver transplant surgery in Hyderabad was over Rs 25 lakh and kidney transplant was between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 12 lakh. Thanks to innovation and know-how acquired by surgeons and healthcare establishments, the costs have considerably dropped.
Huge gap in demand and supply
The demand and supply of donor organs, however, continues to remain a huge challenge due to the large disease burden. Due to increasing awareness levels, the organ donation numbers are rising, but the demand for organs is continuing to outstrip the supply.
At present, the number of patients who have registered with Jeevandan is 6,889, of which 3,657 persons are in desperate need for a donor kidney while the remaining need a liver to survive.
At the national level, an estimated 2 lakh patients every year suffer from renal failure and the number of kidney transplants being taken up in a year in India is around 6,000. According to Director-General of Health Sciences, an estimated 2 lakh patients die of liver failure or liver cancer every year in India of which anywhere between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of patients can be saved, meaning about 25,000 to 30,000 liver transplants needed in the entire country. However, the number of liver transplants in the country is around 1,500.
Similarly, about 50,000 persons suffer from heart failures annually but only about 10 to 15 heart transplants are performed every year in India. In case of Cornea, about 25,000 transplants are done every year against a requirement of 1 lakh.