Kochi: With the state government bringing in new regulations to make the brain death certification process more stringent following controversies surrounding the use of organs for transplantation, private hospitals in Kerala are now reluctant to certify brain death in their ICUs.
On an average, brain death was formally diagnosed in 70 patients in previous years while only 15 cases have been reported so far this year, that too at the insistence of the patients’ families.
As a result, the cadaver organ donation program in the state has hit a new low at a time when around 2,000 patients registered under Mrithasanjeevani, the state government’s Deceased Donor Organ Transplantation Program, waiting for vital organs to save their lives.
The falling number of organ donors is in contrast to over 4,000 road-accident deaths reported in the state every year. Out of the 4,000 deceased, organs of at least 500 persons could have been harvested for transplantation after they were declared brain dead.
Although about 200 doctors from Health Services have been empanelled across the state to make brain death certification process more credible, the panel has become more or less defunct now due to the poor reporting.
The government was forced to introduce stringent guidelines for cadaver donations following allegations that some of the hospitals in the state were taking advantage of regulatory loopholes to indulge in illegal organ trade.
As per existing rules, four doctors need to be present for the certification of brain stem deaths in the state hospitals. Three sets of tests should be conducted on the patient in an interval of six hours before declaring him/her brain dead and brain death certification process should be compulsorily videographed real time. Moreover, all the protocols and processes involved in brain death certification need to be followed before taking the patient off the ventilation.
In Kerala, the primary demand is for kidney transplants, followed by liver.
As many as 1,995 patients registered with KNOS, the State government’s online registry of all potential organ recipients in the State, are waiting to receive organ transplants in various state hospitals.
The number of organs required for transplant is as follows:
Legs, arms, and other organs: 22
Multi-visceral organs: 8