Hearts and lungs fly across Kerala borders to breathe new life into dying patients
Kerala exports not just human capital, to the world, but also human organs like eyes, heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and pancreas to patients waiting for transplants.
Kerala made medical history last month when the heart of the brain dead patient Neelakanda Shrama was harvested at Sree Chitra Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology in Thiruvananthapuram, flown to Kochi by air ambulance and transplanted to a patient, Mathew, at Lissie Hospital in Kochi–all in a matter of six hours!
Last week, the heart and lungs of a 19 year old youth–Pranav of Kayamkulam in Alappuzha district — who was declared brain dead after a road accident, were harvested at Lakeshore Hospital in Kochi, airlifted to Chennai and transplanted to a 24 year old patient hailing from Maharashtra at Fortis Malar Hospital.
Early this week, the heart and lung of a 12 year old boy Adith Paulson, declared brain dead, was transferred from Aster Medcity hospital in Kochi to the same Fortis Malar hospital in Chennai and transplanted to a 10 year old Kazhaksthan girl. The boy’s liver and kidney were given to recipients at Lakeshore hospital, Kochi, while his cornea was donated to Little Flower eye bank, Angamali.
Recently, organs such as eyes, heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas of 63 year old K Narayanankutty Nair from Chelakkara in Thrissur district of Kerala, declared brain dead after an accident, were transplanted to patients in various hospitals in Mumbai. This was done as per the wish expressed by Nair during his lifetime.
Many hospitals in India and abroad have undertaken successful kidney transplants from living donors in Kerala. There are also cases of transplanting organs like pancreas, small intestines, blood vessels, nerves, tendons, bones, heart valve and skin from a cadaver.
According to medical experts, a huge demand and supply gap exists for human organs, especially the heart and lung, in India. Thousands of patients are waiting endlessly for transplants as the availability of donors are far less than required.
According to Government statistics, as many as 1,038 patients are on the wait list in Kerala for kidney transplants as of now. Lack of public awareness about the importance of organ donation and religious beliefs stand in the way of getting enough donors.
In the wake of a boom in illegal organ trafficking, the Government has framed stringent protocols for organ harvesting and transplantation. Only limited number of hospitals with minimum prescribed facilities are allowed to undertake organ transplantation.
Kerala was till recently considered to be somewhat safe in illegal human organ trade, while other states Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Delhi have been very much in the news associated with kidney racket. Of late, some hospitals in North Kerala are mired in controversies relating to illegal renal transplantation involving tribals. In such hospitals, renal transplants reportedly take place under the pretext of changing blood.
In view of attractive inducements offered by middlemen, the number of people who sell their organs for money is on the rise in Kerala. Many potential donors also go abroad for renal transplants to make a fast buck.
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