08 Aug 2012
Doctors in Pune and Mumbai say people prefer Chennai due to low-cost treatment
Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s shift from a leading private hospital in Mumbai to Chennai after he was detected with a liver ailment highlights a trend of an increasing number of patients rushing to the south to get their liver transplants done, as opposed to staying in Mumbai or Pune for a surgery.
Currently, Deshmukh is admitted in an extremely critical condition at Global Hospitals in Chennai. He was admitted to the hospital for a possible liver transplant.
Even as two hospitals in Pune have announced their transplant centres, doctors say that patients prefer to carry out this operation in southern states.
While Dr Sheetal Mahajani Dhadphale, gastroenterologist and hepatologist at Ruby Hall Clinic, has sent 20 patients to other cities for undergoing transplants, gastroenterologist Dr Nitin Pai said that only five patients could afford the operation in the past eight years.
"Only people with deep pockets can afford this operation. While there is no registry being maintained of how many people travel to other cities, doctors in Pune would have a few cases. Though the figure would depend on affordability of patients," Pai said
According to records, a patient in need of a liver transplant is eight times more likely to get a liver on time in Tamil Nadu as compared to Maharashtra. While not more than six liver transplant surgeries happened in Mumbai last year, over 15 patients from Mumbai went down south to get their liver transplants done.
It is estimated that in the last 10 years, more than 200 patients in Mumbai died while waiting to receive a liver transplant. Statistics suggest that over the last four years, Tamil Nadu has a much better track record at successful liver transplants than Maharashtra.
In 2012, between June 15 and June 30, as many as five liver transplant surgeries were conducted in Tamil Nadu, averaging at one surgery every three days. On the contrary, Maharashtra has not seen a single liver transplant surgery since the last two months.
Dr Gustad Daver, president of executive council, Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee in Mumbai, said, "Patients move down south in anticipation of obtaining a quicker transplant, as the waiting period for receiving the organ in Maharashtra in longer than that of Tamil Nadu.
"Identification of brain stem deaths and convincing the family of a deceased to donate is actively practised in hospitals down south. People in Tamil Nadu agree to donate their deceased kin’s organs out of social responsibility. "