.Races ..Against …Death
“We found that organ donation rate is more in rural areas than the urban population.Why are we failing here?” muses Arati Gokhale.
The central coordinator of Pune’s Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre (ZTCC)-Mrs Arati Gokhale-is a trained professional medical social worker.
She continues in the same breath, “We need to do more publicity about organ donation in urban i.e. city areas.”
Pune has shown a steady rise in the cases of organ donation. From 8 cases in 2014 to 70 in 2017, Pune stands second highest in the country trailing behind Chennai (1000+ in 2017).
Though the rate of organ donation has gone up in Pune, a large chunk of the population remains ignorant about the procedure and what it entails.
“Late Naina Narang, Rajesh Shetty, and Pankaj Modani approached me for gathering information about organ donation. That’s when I found out about ReBirth and that they are a part of the NGO. Despite no proﬁt of either money or time, ReBirth volunteers, all working professionals, work very hard in spreading awareness about organ donation.”
Awareness is the key to bring about a change in the current situation of the society. Many patients die every year of end stage disease due to lack of suitable organ donors.
Mrs Gokhale elaborates, “Allow me to explain the shortage in numbers. The rate of organ donation in India is only 0.5% per million population!”
Working in a hospital for 19 years, Mrs Gokhale developed this special area of interest while in the Department of Ophthalmology and Renal Unit. She says, “Initially, I started working with eye donation and then moved into organ donation at state and national level.”
ZTCC is a not-for-proﬁt government organisation, registered with the Charity Commissioner, founded to promote organ donation.
There are four ZTCCs in Maharashtra – Pune, Mumbai, Aurangabad, and Nagpur. ZTCC’s main objectives are :
1. To coordinate, monitor, and supervise the cadaver organ transplant programme
2. To create transplant registry and maintain computerised waiting list of recipients for each organ
3. To promote and improve recognition and awareness about organ donation
Under any condition, ZTCC ensures fair allocation of available organs. Mrs Gokhale states, “Only when a matching recipient is not found locally, we go for organ sharing with other regions of the country. This sometimes involves staying up nights to coordinate with other ZTCCs.”
As the central coordinator, Mrs Gokhale’s job doesn’t end at organ allocation. After a donor is registered, she scans through waiting lists for suitable recipient(s).
The most challenging part begins once recipient (and recipient hospital) is identiﬁed – the transportation of the organ(s). A green corridor needs to be set up to ensure fast movement of the harvested organ to the recipient. It is achieved through ﬂawless coordination between ZTCC and the police department.
Mrs Gokhale throws light with a recent case, “Perfect coordination between police teams from three districts of Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, and Pune ensured the liver retrieved from a deceased lawyer in Aurangabad reached Pune in just over three hours through a green corridor. It usually takes about ﬁve-six hours to cover the 230km distance between the two cities.”
With a green corridor, the trafﬁc police help in easy and faster movement of the ambulance carrying the organs. They ensure that the ambulance movement is not disrupted due to trafﬁc. “Green corridors are created to tackle medical emergencies by manually-operating street signals to avoid peak trafﬁc,” explains Mrs Gokhale.
ZTCC Pune executed its ﬁrst green corridor in 2015. “A heart was transported from Pune airport to Ruby Hall Clinic (in May, 2017) in a record time of six minutes. This feat also marked ZTCC Pune’s 25th green corridor,” highlights Mrs Gokhale.
She further adds, “Increasing use of green corridors in the city has saved many lives. Also, cooperation from citizens must be appreciated. Media, too, plays an important role here; newspapers and electronic media are giving broader coverage to organ donation across the state.”
The start of 2018 shows potential. In January 2018, Pune registered 7 organ donations. However, the number of recipients in the waiting list continues to outnumber the number of organ donations in Pune. Unless public at large back this effort, many deserving but end stage organ failures will die hoping for an organ transplant.
“Pledging organ donation before death can be of great help in persuading the relatives of a brain dead patient,” signs off Mrs Gokhale.
The central coordinator of Pune’s Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre (ZTCC)
Mrs Arati Gokhale – is a trained professional medical social worker.