Is there a Positive Shift in Attitude to Donate Organs in the Country?
In the last five years, we have seen a positive shift in the attitude of people in Chennai and Hyderabad towards organ donation. Just like eye donation, families are regularly coming forward of their own accord and making a wish to donate when they are told that their loved one is brain dead. This has also been witnessed in Gujarat. We are now also seeing this phenomenon in Mumbai and Bangalore and to some extent in Delhi. This happens usually in situations where families of brain dead persons are sensitized to the cause of organ donation or where people have expressed their wish to be organ donors before their death. Mumbai, which had 10 cadaver donations last year, has already done donations from seven brain dead persons this year.
In Chennai, we saw the parents of two anencephaly babies wanting to donate the organs of these children given that with anencephaly there is no chance of long term survival. But this failed because our law has no provision for such donation. On another occasion, a 2-year-old child's parents donated the organs of their little one. I also remember a family who almost fought with the hospital authorities to donate the organs of their 69-year-old father, when they found the hospital authorities dithering about accepting their wish because of the age of their father.
Organ donation is the highest form of humanitarianism and the families who donate believe in it and none regret donating. This kind of altruistic donation is picked up by the media frequently as it provides them with a 'feel-good factor story.' In today's era where only 'bad news make good news' maybe this kind of story gives their publications a positive high impact story and gets the necessary eyeballs, which is a great boost for the deceased organ donation programme. Some film directors have picked up true organ donation stories and made successful films. 'Traffic' is a Malayalam film based on a heart transplant that happened in Chennai a few years back, when the traffic on the city's major roads was stopped for a few minutes to transport the heart from one place to another.
So what has helped in making this possible?
We attribute it to various factors such as -
Increasing the awareness pitch in certain cities in India
Media's publicity about organ donation
Distribution of organ donor cards by NGOs
We hope that this positive shift in attitude towards deceased organ donation will spread to other towns and cities across the country.
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