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Southern States - Tamil Nadu-Chennai

Organ donation gains momentum
By Ramya Kannan

CHENNAI, JAN. 21. Over the past couple of days, two cases of organ transplantation following `brain death' have been recorded. The two donors were of different ages, came from different backgrounds, were admitted in different hospitals and their organs went to different people.

What did run through these two recent incidents was the fact that the parents of the donors were more than willing to donate the organs of their wards, after `brain death' was confirmed. Doctors say that looked at from the right perspective, these two incidents mark a significant shift in the societal attitude towards organ donation. Hostile reactions from bereaved relatives have slowly given way to a more considered approach to the issue of organ donation.

On Monday morning, the two kidneys, eyes and heart valves of Manikandan, a 26-year-old engineer were removed, after he was declared `brain dead'. Having been admitted into a local hospital in Anna Nagar, Manikandan is said to have suffered epileptic attacks and doctors certified brain death. His father, C.Gopalan, who is employed with BSNL intimated Sri Ramachandra Hospital Chennai of his wish to donate the boys organs. Since Manikandan had a rare blood group, there were no takers for his other organs.

Earlier, the parents of a 16-year-old boy, Thyagarajan consented to organs being removed from his body, after he was declared brain dead at Apollo Hospital. His heart, lungs, kidneys and eyes were removed and transplanted onto other long suffering patients.

Besides bringing to light the changing attitudes in society, the experience of the past two days has also shown the importance of networking in order to make organ transplantation work. Within few hours of receiving information, the entire process had been completed, with the help of an intricate network of hospitals throughout the city, even stretching beyond, to other cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, as was the case with Manikandan.

Organisations like Initiative for Organ Sharing (INOS), facilitated by MOHAN Foundation and the Chennai Transplant Centre, working from Madras Medical Mission, have enabled the smooth process of organ donation from the medical side.

Considering that time is of utmost importance in a `brain dead' situation, as the organs have to be removed before deterioration sets in, having a very efficient network in place is of utmost importance.

INOS, for instance, has three hospitals in Chennai and CMC Vellore in its fold, while the Chennai Transplant Centre also co-ordinates with hospitals throughout the country. Though the state registry of donees is yet to be formed, these organisations have their own list of patients in waiting and make contact as soon as an opportunity arises.

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