Hyderabad: After months of uncertainty during the first and second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, organ donation and transplantation has started to gather pace in Telangana. In the last few months, despite the lingering hesitation due to fear of Covid infections among recipients, organ donations have started to steadily rise.
Since 2016, the average organs donated in a year in Telangana under Jeevandan initiative used to exceed the 500 mark. However, the first and second wave of Covid pandemic had affected the organ donation and transplantation initiative.
Due to months of lockdown, last year a total of 257 donor organs were harvested from deceased donors under the Jeevandan organ donation initiative. This year however, in the first six months alone, 249 organ donations have been taken up under Jeevandan initiative.
With Covid impacting the upper respiratory tract, especially lungs, authorities have also reported a surge in lung transplants. Between 2013 and 2019, 23 cadaver lung transplants were conducted. However, in the last two years during the Covid-19 pandemic, private hospitals in Hyderabad had conducted 44 lung transplants.
“There is a gradual realisation among doctors and hospitals that the pandemic could stay longer than what was expected and transplants can’t be postponed. There is a large existing cohort of patients who are in the waiting list for donor kidneys, liver, lungs and heart. Strict implementation of guidelines and implementing SOPs has also reduced the risk of Covid infection in hospitals to a large extent. All these factors have played a part in the steady rise in organ donations and transplantations,” says senior nephrologist at NIMS and in-charge of Jeevandan initiative,c.
Despite the steady rise in organ donations and transplants, the pandemic had ended up instilling a sense of fear among recipients, who have been wary of undergoing transplantation even if a donor organ is available. There have been instances in Hyderabad where a donor kidney was left unused due to lack of a willing recipient. On some occasions, authorities had to go down the waiting list of patients to get hold of a recipient who was willing to get the transplant done.
Senior health officials, however, pointed out that patient confidence will improve, as more and more hospitals successfully conduct complex transplant surgeries with minimal Covid infections.
SOPs for skin donation
Jeevandan is in the process of framing guidelines and SOPs to take-up skin donations in Telangana.
Established guidelines for skin donation will go a long way in saving the lives of burn victims, who do not make it if the burns are 50 per cent of total body surface area. Unlike organs, donated skin can be stored in the specialised skin bank recently established at OGH for more than 50 years.
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