07/08/2014 ….Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister, has announced a fresh government initiative to ensure that organs and tissues are collected scientifically from donors and distributed to patients-in-need at minimum cost.
He said that Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi will house the first National Organ &Tissue Transplantation Organisation (NOTTO). It will maintain computerised networks with 24 identified transplant and organ retrieval centres in Delhi. It will be commissioned within 18 months, he informed.
“I wish to see a body pledging revolution in India. But before that I will put in place a state-of-art interface system between organ and recipients. At present only a handful of private hospitals are controlling information on organ availability, which is making costs prohibitive for the common man. Soon public institutions will make possible for speedy and effective distribution of kidneys, hearts, lungs, bones, tissues, cornea, skin and cells at token cost to those who can pay and free to the poor,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said.
Yesterday, a dry-run was successfully carried out between IGI Airport and a Gurgaon private hospital in which a dummy heart was transported over a 15.4 Km distance in 15 minutes through rush hour traffic. In normal days, this would have taken at least twice the time. In June, two heart transplants were carried out in Chennai using the “green corridor” system.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “I am convinced now that Indian society is ready for a revolution insofar as organ donation and transplantation are concerned. It is my job as Minister to make it work on the ground.”
The Health Minister added that he would consult the state governments at the next meeting of the Central Council of Health on setting up NOTTO-like institutions in all state capitals. The proposed Universal Health Assurance Plan which Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has articulated will have an organ donation component, he stated.
Under the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017), Rs 149 crore had been allotted for setting up organ donation facilitation infrastructure. However, in the first two years only about Rs 10 crore was spent, the Minister said. The new government intends implementing a nationwide programme for not only setting up NOTTO-like bodies, but also spreading social awareness so that there is never a dearth of organs and tissues for recipients, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said.
The Health Minister said that today, organ donation from the brain dead to patients-in-need is facilitated by law. But having progressive laws is not enough. The rate of organ donation in India is only 0.16 per 1 million population, compared to 40 in Spain and 35 in the United States, he said.