It is a widely known fact that
there is an acute shortage of organs for transplantation in India. But Dr.
Francis Delmonico, President-elect of World Transplantation Society and
renowned transplant surgeon is in Chennai for a special reason. Though
India's record of organ donation is dismally low, the organ donor rate in
the southern state of TamilNadu with its capital at Chennai is 1.2 per million
population-15 times the national average! In an exclusive interview to
Medindia, during his brief visit to Chennai this week, Dr. Delmonico shares his
appreciation for Chennai's deceased organ donation program, his distress at
organ sales continuing in many parts of the world and his expert tips to
improve organ donation and transplantation in India.
Q. You are in Chennai for a
reason. Tell us your observation of how the deceased organ donations are
The promising figures
in organ donation and transplantation in Chennai drew me here in the first
place. I'm impressed with the kind sincerity and hard work that is going into
the organ donation program by NGOs like Mohan foundation and Tanker Foundation
and you're certainly on the right track here. I'm deeply interested in the
program's progress and will be returning to Chennai soon. Meanwhile, I'll take
this success story to other places in the world.
Q. Deep rooted religious
beliefs mostly hamper organ donation in India. I work with NGOs that struggle
to dispel these myths and facilitate organ donation. Tell us how we can take
I do agree it is
difficult to change a mindset, but we have to keep trying. No religion in the
world prevents a person from being a recipient. Tell them, there is a world
outside that's larger than oneself. Or here's another tactic. Help people
understand that organs don't know religion, ethnicity or culture. Just as
a Palestinian's heart will work well in an Israeli's body so will a Christian's
kidney in a Buddhist's body or a Hindu's liver in a Muslim's body.
remember, you can't have these arguments with grieving families in Intensive
Care Units (ICU). Organ donation programs don't begin and end in
. We have to sensitize people at a larger levelótap into media
resources, spread the word in educational institutions and corporate places. Do
whatever it takes until the message of organ donation sinks into the population
and begins to show positive results in terms of increase in the number of
deceased organ donations.
Q. We just saw a presentation
on certain problems hampering successful donations and transplantations in this
part of the world, such as reluctance to donate for various reasons,
identification of brain dead patients, maintenance of brain dead patients, lab
results, brain death certification, police inquest, authorization for organ
removal, post mortem, transportation etc. In your observation, what do you
think are our strengths?
I have observed many
strengths. The sincerity, the level of hard work and the team work that goes
into the deceased organ program here is amazing. You just have to take it to
the next level and extend it all over the country. Chennai's ability to
, leaves me in no doubt that this deceased organ donation program
will be a trendsetter for the rest of India.
Q. There must be many, but can
you mention a proud/poignant moment in your worldwide campaign for deceased
I'm very proud to be in
Dr. Francis Delmonico's visit has certainly given a fillip
to the deceased organ donation program in India. With projections indicating a rise
in diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure that point to an increase in the
number of patients in India with organ failure needing kidney, heart and liver
transplants, it is imperative to step up the organ donation program in
TamilNadu and extend the enthusiasm for organ donation and transplantation
to the rest of India.