Govt Doctors Clueless About Organ Transplant
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28 February 2011
A recent seminar has revealed that doctors at state-run and civic hospitals lack basic knowledge about various procedures related to transplantation of organs
Aquick question: once an organ is removed from a donor’s body, in how much time should it be transplanted into someone else? You may not know the correct answer – within 6 hours, if it’s the liver; within 12, if it’s the kidney – but you would expect doctors hired by our government to at least know it. It turns out they are as clueless about these vital facts as you are.
A seminar organised by a top medical official, Dr Sanjay Oak, on Saturday revealed that many doctors at hospitals run by the city and state administrations don’t even have basic knowledge about the procedures followed before transplantation of organs. Oak is the medical director of all civic hospitals.
Questions Stump Doctors
CONSIDER THIS: when doctors at the seminar were asked when an organ should be removed, most answered "when a patient dies or his heart stops functioning". A panel of senior doctors present there had to clarify that kidney, liver or heart is removed when a patient is brain dead.
The most shocking replies came when the panel asked people of what age could donate organs. Some doctors said people in the age group of 18 to 50, while some said those aged between 10 and 60. According to the law, a donor can be aged between 2 and 70.
Doctors who attended the seminar – there were more than 300 – didn’t even know that organs of cancer patients can also be harvested. A person suffering from brain tumour or skin cancer can donate his/her kidney, liver or heart. "Earlier, the subject of transplantation was not in MBBS curriculum. However, two years ago, it was included in the course.
Doctors should have basic knowledge of organ transplant. Often, they fail to identify brain dead patients, whose organs can be harvested," Oak said.
According to him, hospitals like KEM see at least six brain dead patients. "However, in the past one year, it has carried out only two liver and two kidney transplants," he said.
Sixty-eight people with damaged livers are waiting for donors. This figure for patients with kidney complications is 1,800. Oak said doctors avoid declaring a person brain dead because of paperwork and legalities. "This is why we have decided to teach our doctors procedures to be followed in such cases," he said. The seminar, which was aimed at raising awareness on the issue among doctors, saw a panel of surgeons and medical officials.
Pravin Shingare, director of medical education & research; Sanjay Nagral, a liver transplant surgeon at Jaslok Hospital; Meena Kumar, a surgeon at Sion; S K Mathur, a liver transplant expert at Fortis, Shilpa Rao, head of KEM’s surgery department and Sujata Patwardhan, secretary of Zonal Transplant & Coordination Committee (ZTCC) were on this panel.
"If doctors in ICU can successfully identify a brain dead patient, it will help increase organ donation. So far, ZTCC has recorded only six cadaver donations. This number was 20 last year and 36 in 2009," Dr Patwardhan said. She said that government doctors lacked basic knowledge, and hence seminars would be organised to create greater awareness.
Saturday’s event was mandatory for all doctors at Sion, Nair and KEM.