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HomeNewsFor 1st time, yearly cadaver donations cross 1,000 in 2023

For 1st time, yearly cadaver donations cross 1,000 in 2023

MUMBAI: For the first time, the annual number of cadaver (or deceased) donors in India crossed the four-digit mark in 2023.
This is not the only milestone of India’s cadaver transplant programme for the year. It overtook other countries in the total number of hand transplants ever performed, and, for the first time, the northeastern states opened their deceased donation programme, with conflict-torn Manipur carrying out two donations.
According to National Organ & Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO), there were 1,028

deceased donors

in 2023 as against 941 in 2022. “The number could be higher as some states are still in the process of updating their figures,”


director Dr Anil Kumar told TOI on Saturday.
Telangana, which has consistently led in cadaver donations, continued at the top with 200 donations in 2023, followed by Karnataka (178), Tamil Nadu (176), Maharashtra (149) and Gujarat (146). Mumbai, too, managed a high of 50

cadaver donations

last year. “Each cadaver donor, on an average, donates three organs, so between 2,800 and 3,000 organ failure patients benefited in 2023,” Dr Kumar said.

The term “cadaver donors” describes donations of solid organs by patients who have been declared brain-dead that are then transplanted into patients struggling with end-stage organ failure (brain death is the norm in most countries, but solid organ donations is also possible after cardiac death). India passed the Transplantation of Human Organs Rules in 1994, and the country’s first “well protocolised” kidney transplant was carried out on March 27, 1997 in Mumbai’s

Sion Hospital

About 26 years later, Manipur government-run Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal conducted the region’s first cadaver donations and transplants. A senior central health official said Manipur’s first donation took place on Aug 2, 2023. The second deceased donation took place on Oct 11.
Experts believe the Centre’s focus on

cadaveric transplants

has made a difference. Dr Sunil Shroff of NGO Mohan Foundation, which works closely with central and various state governments, said more states are now focusing on transplants. PM Modi focused on cadaveric organ donation in his 99th episode of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on March 26, 2023. “The endorsement by the Prime Minister definitely worked, with many public hospitals, administrators and state health departments focusing on cadaver donations,” Dr Shroff said.
NOTTO director Anil Kumar said there is “more willingness and awareness” about organ donation. “Consider the new digital registry in which people have to carry out an Aadhaar-verified pledge. In four months since we started this registry, 1.35 lakh have pledged their organs,” he said.
He said government had taken up organ donation “in a health campaign mode”, regularly organising long programmes and seminars to ensure “every medical and non-medical college is sensitised about the cause”.
Meanwhile, while India started hand transplants in 2015 after many other countries, it is now ahead of others. In ‘Indian Transplant’ newsletter’s Sept 2023 edition, Dr Subramania Iyer, plastic surgeon from Amrita Hospital who conducted the country’s first hand transplant, wrote that 50 hands for 29 patients had been completed in India since 2015. Globally, 170 hand transplants have been conducted in 18 countries. “Since its inception in 1999, USA topped the list (32 patients, 46 hands) but India has overtaken it both in terms of number of recipients as well as number of hands transplanted,” he said.
However, experts said there is still a long way to go as thousands of people are waitlisted for organ donation for years. “There are still some states that haven’t carried out a cadaver transplant. The south is performing well, but cadaver donations have to pick up in the north,” said a senior doctor. He said while NCR has more ICU beds than the whole of north India, donations in NCR are around 20 or so. “AIIMS Delhi had 14 donations as against 19 last year, but it isn’t enough,” he said.

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