Even as cadaver organ donation is slowly picking pace after a lull amid the lockdown, there are very few hospitals willing to participate in transplant procedures. Of the 38 hospitals registered for cadaver organ donation in Mumbai, only 13 have agreed to resume transplants.
After the city went under a lockdown, cadaver transplants had come to a halt in March and April. But since June, 10 cadaver organ donors have given a fresh lease of life to at least 29 people.
“When we restarted the transplants, we had to ensure that cross infection is prevented and both recipient and donor are tested for Covid-19. Hospitals also need separate facilities for Covid and non-Covid so that there is no risk of transmission,” said Dr S K Mathur from the Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre (ZTCC).
He added that only 13 of the 38 hospitals agreed to follow all protocols for transplant. Another 19 refused to resume transplant procedures and six remain undecided.
The city currently has on waitlist 3,536 kidney patients, followed by 350 awaiting transplant of liver, 27 of heart, 14 of lung, 10 of pancreas and three of small bowel.
Mathur said that following the onset of the pandemic, organ transplants, both live and cadaver, have dipped by 75 per cent. Of the 29 organs retrieved from 10 donors since March, 14 were kidneys, 10 livers, two hearts as well as one each pancreas, lung and small bowel. Last year, 33 donors and 105 organs were retrieved during the same period.
ZTCC officials said hospitals still fear spread of infection to health workers since those operating stand a risk of exposure to Covid-19. A transplant recipient, too, remains at high risk of contracting Covid-19 due to the high dose of immunosuppressants. Transplant surgeons are now reducing the dose of immunosuppressants to ensure that a patient can battle Covid-19 in case of infection, they added.
Nephrologist Dr Bharat Shah said they have resumed live transplants of kidney and liver in emergency cases. “The process is longer because we have to wait for Covid-19 test results… there is a due screening process, but we have to resume transplants at some point,” he added.
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