A donor-recipient meet, involving families of organ-donors and recipients of the organ donation and their families, was conducted at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi, on September 17, 2018. The Kerala State Health Minister Smt. K. K. Shailaja presided over the function. The administration teams from local bodies, who helped with the organ donations, were also present.

Fr. Davis Chiramel, President, Kidney Foundation of India; Fr. Reju Kannampuzha, Asst. Director, Little Flower Hospital; Dr. Prem Nair, Medical Director, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Dr. Subramania Iyer K., Head, Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, spoke at the event.

Speaking on the occasion, the Kerala State Health Minister Smt. K. K. Shailaja said, “Caring and interdependence among members of the society as well as proper communication and awareness are the basic factors that can encourage organ donation in Kerala. We have seen an increase in the number of complaints regarding organ donation recently. In the past 1-2 years, our statistics have shown a decline in organ donation numbers. Though the numbers for organ donation for live donors through informed consent have grown, there has been a marked decline in organ donation from brain-dead donors. To counter this, the process of regulating organ donations from brain dead donors has to be made speedy.”

Dr. Prem Nair, Medical Director, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, added, “The aim of this donor-recipient meet was to send out a positive message to the society that concerted efforts from everyone can encourage organ donation and help save several lives through this noble deed. This message is especially important since the organ donation drive in Kerala is at its lowest ebb in recent years.”

Said Dr. Subramania Iyer K., Head, Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, “This Meet was very much needed because the instances of organ donation after brain-death have been very low in Kerala for the past few years. The main reason is several unnecessary and unhealthy misconceptions raised and publicized through social media regarding brain death. To counter this, the government brought in more stringent criteria for declaration of brain death. But this has not helped to improve the situation, as the general willingness of all concerned to encourage and facilitate organ donation has not picked up.”

The 29-year-old Arunraj, a donor, hailed from Ambedkar Colony in Vengoorkara, Angamaly, Ernakulam, son of Mr. Rajan and Ms. Seetha, was working as a contract employee at Cochin airport. He was socially involved in activities related to DYFI. Arunraj became brain-dead after being involved in a road accident, and was being taken care of at the Little Flower Hospital, Angamaly. He was identified as a potential organ donor and his family consented for the same. His heart was transplanted to a patient in Chennai, liver to a patient at Amrita, pancreas and one kidney to another patient at Amrita, the other kidney to a recipient at Kottayam Medical College and both hands to a 49-year-old lady at Amrita. All these transplanted organs and patients are now doing well.

This organ donation which saved five lives becomes noteworthy in today’s context, since it was made possible by the efforts of numerous agencies. Foremost, was the willingness of the donor family which was catalyzed by the efforts of family friends and social activists. The role of the Little Flower Hospital was another helpful factor.

The local body administration, from the ward member to the municipal chairperson and Angamaly MLA and the Kerala Network for Organ Sharing (KNOS) were involved throughout. The stellar role played by the office of the Kerala Health Minister in mobilising the government doctors’ support for certification and transfer of the organs, as well as sustaining the motivation of the family to tide over the delay in the release of the body was noteworthy.

During the meeting, the donor Arunraj’s mother, father and brother were felicitated by the Minister and the recipients. All persons and institutions who helped to make this organ donation were felicitated for their role. The role of the Kerala State Health Minister Smt. K. K. Shailaja and her office, in streamlining the process, were also highlighted.

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