Need For Speed

Chief Intensivist at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, Dr Prasad Rajhans closely interacts with organ donor families and organ recipients. He points out experientially, “Organ donation is an important cause to work for as it saves multiple lives. There is a great need to educate people about organ donation.”

Immersed deeply in his job, Dr Rajhans also finds himself penning down quotes often. “Here is something I wrote — ‘People will not remember you for the car you drove or the house you lived in; they will remember you for what you did for them.’ If you gift life, your deeds will be undying!”

With MBBS and MD degrees from BJ Medical College (Pune), Dr Rajhans trained in the United Kingdom for three and a half years in Critical Care Medicine, Anaesthesiology, and Emergency Medicine. He recalls an incident, “When I was working in the UK, we had a cadaver for organ retrieval. The organ retrieval team landed in our hospital campus by a helicopter and the retrieved organs were transported by the Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) to different cities in the UK.”

Retrieved organs have a low shelf-life; hence the need for rapid transportation. Once the organs have been removed from the body and stored in a chemical solution, they have limited life spans. The length of time donated organs and tissues can be kept outside the body, before transplantation is to occur, vary from hours to days to years!

• Heart: 4 to 6 hours
• Lung: 4 to 6 hours
• Liver: 12 to 24 hours
• Pancreas: 12 to 24 hours
• Kidney: 48 to 72 hours
• Cornea: 14 days
• Bone: 5 years
• Skin: 5 years
• Heart valves: 10 years

Breakneck speed is critical for the health of retrieved organs. Green corridors help achieve this need.

Serving in the Department of Critical Care and Emergency Medicine (at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital), Dr Rajhans deals with life-threatening cases on a daily basis. It was but natural that he became a part of an initiative to reform the services of ambulances. Dr Rajhans, as a consultant, has done pioneering work in development of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) — Dial 108 — in India. He firmly reiterates, “Give way to an ambulance as it is trying to save a VIP — the citizen of this country!”

From 26th January, 2014 until 2nd October, 2017, the BVG-MEMS project has served more than 18 lakh patients including trauma, cardiac, medical, and delivery in ambulance. Referring to his experience in the UK, Dr Rajhans envisions, “I hope one day we will also be able to transport retrieved organs in the shortest possible time here in India when we have better HEMS.”

Though Pune, as a city, has required infrastructure, hospitals equipped with the necessary facilities, specialist doctors, and a proactive police department, the awareness about organ donation is significantly low. Attempts are constantly being made to create awareness amongst citizens.

Organ Donation is purely voluntary and hence a lot of effort has to be done for educating the public at large regarding the need and also how the donor can give new life to recipients. Although the family is losing a near and dear one, the donation will give new life to so many families. “In the recent years, lot of awareness has been created by the media. ZTCC has also done lot of work to reach out to people,” says Dr Rajhans.

Talking about awareness, Dr Rajhans recounts how an NGO approached him for guidance. “When team ReBirth met me for the first time, I found them to be very enthusiastic. I decided to help them and guide them in this field so that they will be able to contribute significantly for the society.” He observes, “ReBirth is an organisation of young and socially motivated individuals who are from different professions but have come together for a common cause. Since its inception, ReBirth is doing great work in the field of organ donation awareness and must continue the good work.”

Speaking from experience, Dr Rajhans states that every journey brings along its own set of challenges. “There will be highs and lows; things may not go as planned; funds may run short. They will face lot of challenges but ultimately the work for this cause will give them great satisfaction of saving so many lives,” he foretells.

Dr Rajhans urges citizens to actively promote the cause of organ donation. Every effort, in whatever form, however miniscule, will eventually amount to something significant. He says, “Who knows how your efforts will be a boon for somebody some day! Each act counts.”

Signing off on an impressive note, Dr Rajhans recites one of his favourite quotes –
“If you have donated money, you have donated something.
If you have donated time, you have donated something more.
If you have donated organs, you have donated everything!”

Dr Prasad Rajhans
Chief Intensivist, Department of Critical Care and
Emergency Medicine, Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital,
Consultant in EMS, Symbiosis International University,
Past President, Society for Emergency Medicine India
Ex-Vice President, Indian Society of Critical Care
Medicine (ISCCM)
ITC Pune Co-ordinator, American Heart Association
Medical Director, Pune Chapter, ITLS (International
Trauma Life Support), USA

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