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Experts Rue Lack Of Cadaveric Transplant Facility In State

Campaigns for generating awareness on organ donation paying dividends

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GUWAHATI, Sept 11: Noting that Assam has no cadaveric transplant facility, except in case of cornea, experts in the medical field said that more people signing up for donating their organs will not translate into more lives being saved in the absence of proper infrastructure.

Campaigns for generating awareness on organ donation have, however, picked momentum in the state, where currently facilities are available only for living-donor kidney transplants.

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“It is true that there is no cadaveric transplant facility yet, but work to set up one here is at an advanced stage,” Dr Achyut Chandra Baishya, the principal of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), told PTI.

“The state government has sent a communiqué in this regard, and we can expect an official notification soon,” he added.

An official source said all activities of Regional Organ and Tissue Transplantation Organisation (ROTTO), Guwahati, had to be put on hold a couple of years ago as its contractual staff were removed following the detection of “certain irregularities”.

“These issues have been now resolved and GMCH is waiting for a ‘go ahead’ from the government for fresh recruitments,” the source said.

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ROTTO is a regional office under National Organ and Tissue Transplantation Organisation (NOTTO), the apex body that coordinates and networks all activities related to organ donation in the country.

ROTTO, Guwahati, handles all matters pertaining to this sector for the northeastern states.

Dr Baishya, however, maintained that patient services have not been affected due to the issues that had arisen in ROTTO.

“Transplants in any hospital of the state or issuance of NOC for transplants outside the state or any such documentation concerning patients faced no hurdle due to non-functioning of the ROTTO. Our staff members as well as those of Directorate of Health Services have ensured that no patient encounters any problem,” the principal added.

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Isfaqur Rahman of Ellora Vigyan Mancha (EVM), a Guwahati-based NGO working in the organ donation sector since 2004, said his organisation had been seeking adequate cadaveric transplant facilities in the state since inception.

“Not just transplantation facilities, we also need infrastructure for organ and tissue preservation,” he said, pointing out that facilities for retrieval of cornea from people who have pledged their eyes for donation, “a relatively simple procedure”, are also extremely limited in the state.

Rahman pointed out that if an eye donor dies at a place far from the cities, and the cornea is not extracted within the mandated four to six hours, the donation goes to waste.

“When the present chief minister was the state health minister, he had given assurances in the Assembly that the government would facilitate free-of-cost transportation of bodies pledged for donation. But no such measure has been taken as yet,” Rahman lamented.

An anatomy department professor of GMCH, who did not wish to be named, said that body donations are also extremely rare in the state and this has proved to be a problem for medical students.

“Earlier, unclaimed bodies were sent to the anatomy department without much hassle. But now, the number of such bodies coming to the department has gone down. The few available have to be routed through so many legal systems that it gets decomposed by the time it reaches us,” the senior doctor said.

Rahman, aware of the crisis, added that the bodies pledged to Ellora Vigyan Mancha are now being donated to the Anatomy department of medical colleges, though “transportation remains a major problem”.

Zublee Foundation, another NGO working for organ donation awareness, however, stated that engagement with the Assam government is starting to show results.

“The chief minister had last month put thrust on organ donation campaigns at a meeting with health department officials. We believe our repeated meetings with the health department officials over the issue must have given the matter a push. We are hopeful now that something concrete will come out of it soon,” the foundation’s CEO, Priyanka Borah, maintained.

Borah also said that breaking “myths and superstitions” associated with organ donation is still a challenge.

“Once cadaveric transplants start happening here and people see for themselves how it can save multiple lives, we think more people will be forthcoming with donations,” she added. (PTI)

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The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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