National Registration of Potential Organ Donors
India is struggling with acute shortage of organs. It is estimated that more than a million people suffer with end stage organ failure, but only a handful of 3,500 transplants are performed annually. At least 15 patients die every day waiting for organs and every 10 minutes a new name is added to this waiting list. Undoubtedly, the demand far outstrips the availability of organs.
What is a national organ donor registry?
A national registry of potential donors is an enrollment procedure in which people who are willing to donate their organs after their death register themselves and this information will subsequently be used by hospitals on a later date to be able to utilize their organs. The enrollment can be done online on a common portal which is accessible to all the hospitals such that when every potential case of brain death or head trauma that is recorded, the authorities can look up if the given person has ever registered himself/herself as an organ donor.
The need for a national registry for potential donors
- A national registry is an effective means of gauging the level of interest in organ donation. It is also likely to encourage others to sign up.
- Numerous head trauma and brain death cases are admitted round the clock in hospitals and many such cases are eligible for organ donation. However, as the authorities have no knowledge of their attitude towards the cause the organ donation, the process becomes difficult and challenging.
- Having a patient who is already registered as a donor saves a lot of valuable time for the hospital that is otherwise spent on counseling the family of the deceased about the cause.
- A potential donor is relatively more ensured about the possibility of his organs being used when he sees his particulars enlisted in a collective data base as a part of an official record that is accessible by the relevant authorities.
- Potential donors always have doubts about the possibility of their organs not being utilized if they die in an accident in a place away from their domicile, such conditions can be dealt with the help of a database that can be accessed nationally by any hospital across the country.
- In cases where the patient is medically suitable to donate, the family does not have to be burdened by the need to take a decision on the behalf of the donor as the database would reveal whether the patient has an inclination towards organ donations.
The content and subject matter of the registry
- A national registry should enable a nationwide enrolment of people from both urban and rural areas. This enrolment should be a collective database that shows both the cumulative figures of potential donors in the whole country as well as state-wise/city-wise. Statistically, these figures can be compared to those of recipients’ waitlisted to help us project future donation figures.
- The registration process should address information fields that are both relevant and unique to the person in question. Where countries abroad have social security numbers, in India, passport numbers, aadhar card numbers etc can be used other than the basic demographic details.
- The registration database should also contain information fields related to the medical history of the person, blood group etc.
- The Records should specify the contact details of those relatives who have consented to the donation and should be informed when the situation for donation arises.
Important considerations while creating the registry
- The information in the database should be strictly confidential and should be accessible only by hospitals which are supported to perform transplants and capable of proper donor maintenance.
- Multiple information fields should be filled to acquire the information; some fields can have an alternate option and need not be mandatory.
- It is important for the individual registering to have spoken to his family about his desire to donate beforehand. As the consent of the family is mandatory in organ donations, keeping them in the loop right from the time of the registration will save much time and speculation during the donation.