While lifesaving organ donation procedures came to a standstill during the first phases of the lockdown, Pune was the first city in Maharashtra to start transplant surgeries again in May.
From January till August 10, a total of 21 organ donations took place in the city. Of these, seven were performed from May to July this year and 16 persons benefited from these transplants.
Due to the stalled surgeries during lockdown, the waiting list of transplant patients in Pune region needing organs, however, has increased with 1,500 requiring kidneys, another 600 needing a liver transplant and 50 persons needing a heart transplant.
Aarti Gokhale, central coordinator of the Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC) of Pune region – including Pune, Satara, Nashik,Sangli, Kolhapur, Solapur, Dhule and Jalgaon, told The Indian Express that from May 1 to May 31, the families of three persons declared brain dead had agreed to donate their organs and three kidneys and three livers were transplanted . Of this, one kidney was sent to Mumbai ZTCC. In May, hospitals in Pune region were able to conduct six transplant operations.
In June, there were two donors whose families agreed to donate their organs and a single kidney, two livers and two kidney and pancreas each of both donors were transplanted. A total of seven persons benefited from the transplants, Gokhale said.
In July, families of two brain dead persons agreed to donate their organs and one kidney and two livers were transplanted.
Most of the persons who donated organs were those who died of stroke or of a intracerebral bleed.
“It has been challenging to take on organ donations and there were several reasons as to why there was a drop in such cases, mainly due to vehicle movement restrictions and non-availability of organs. Fear of Covid infection also kept recipients away from the hospitals,” said Gokhale.
Meanwhile, a booklet on the standard operating procedure during the pandemic has been drawn up by state health authorities. The SOP was drafted by Dr S K Mathur, president of ZTCC Mumbai, and Dr Akash Shukla, joint secretary, ZTCC Mumbai, along with other experts on the general protocols to be followed by all hospitals conducting organ transplantations during the pandemic.
In general, if the risk of death within six months without organ transplant is more than 50 per cent (applicable to liver, heart and lungs), which is much higher than the risk of contacting Covid-19, then that patient should get the benefit of organ transplantation, said Dr Mathur.
“We have urged that organ transplant for super-urgent and semi-urgent/urgent category/indi-cations should be continued during Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
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