The extent of paucity of organ donors is evident in the numbers as out of two lakh people who need organ transplants, only 4,500 actually get a transplant in a year, experts said.
"In India, only 4,500 transplant patients get operated annually out of a total of two lakh," Apollo Hospitals group medical director Anupam Mittal said.
Citing the lack of deceased organ donors as the prime reason, Mittal said there was a need for large-scale sensitisation and awareness about organ donation in the public.
"The first successful liver transplant in India was conducted at Apollo in 1998. Sanjay, our first transplant recipient, received a liver when he was 18 months old and now he's 15 years old," Mittal said at a press conference to commemorate Indraprastha Apollo becoming the world's busiest transplant centre with 929 successful transplants in 2011.
Transplant surgeon S.N. Mehta said the lack of social acceptance for deceased organ donation is the biggest obstacle in India. "The relatives of deceased patients have to be sensitised towards the issue, especially in case of brain dead patients."
He said that often brain dead patients are kept alive by artificial means and their family members can't easily accept the fact of their condition.
Apollo group Chairman Prathap C. Reddy said more could be done to improve India's track record.
"In our country every 1.8 minutes one person dies in an accident and every three minutes one person requires an organ transplant. If we could sensitise the society to deceased organ donations, we could save so many more lives," he claimed.
According to Reddy, opposed to a living person donating an organ, deceased organ donation or taking organs from a recently dead person is much easier and could greatly simplify transplant operations.