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Times of India
10 March 2011
Hyderabad, India

Not Many Donors for Kidney Patients as Number Swells in State
It pays to be a VIP, especially if you need a kidney transplant. With an estimated 5,000 patients awaiting kidneys at any given time in Andhra Pradesh, it’s the ‘haves’ who get the organ sooner than their ‘poor’ counterparts. Statistics made available on the eve of World Kidney Day, being observed on Thursday, reveal the true picture in the state. As per records, 50 per cent of patients awaiting kidney transplantation are dying even before they could find a donor in the state.

While the government had proposed the Jeevandan Scheme two years ago to streamline the allocation, it has not yet been implemented so far.

"Currently, there is no systematic allocation of organs. Certain people are getting preference but people who deserve it are not getting the organ. The government should take the initiative and allot the organs scientifically," said Dr Gopal Krishna, senior nephrologist and former president of the Indian Society of Organ Transplant. He urged the government to implement Jeevandan Scheme immediately.

The demand for kidneys is huge. Consider this: In Andhra Pradesh, approximately 15,000 new kidney failure cases come up each year. Of the 5,000 patients awaiting a kidney in the state, 2,000 are from Hyderabad alone. But specialists say never there were enough organs to meet the ever–growing demand; more so when it comes to kidneys because dialysis can keep patients alive. And so, only about 200 or less kidney transplants take place in AP each month at the 35 transplant centres. Of these, a chunk of the cases are ‘living–related’ transplants.

Experts said that of the total kidney failure patients, a significant 50 per cent are dying mainly because they cannot afford the expensive treatment. Among the rest, less than 10 per cent are undergoing transplants due to the non–availability of organs. K Raghuram, CEO, Mohan Foundation, a multi–organ harvesting network, said that of the total transplants, one per cent are cadaver. He further said that his foundation receives two to six calls a day from patients inquiring about the availability of kidneys.

Even as the patients’ wait for a kidney ranges between six months and four years, this time is spent undergoing dialysis, three times a week, for four hours, at a cost of anywhere between Rs 25,000–30,000 a month per patient. The expenditure on medicines is additional. Doctors rue that despite decades of educating the public on the virtues of donating one’s organs at death, the supply of cadaver organs has remained meagre.

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