The good news is that there has been a 13-time spike in the number of heart retrieval and donations from cadaver in India in the past five years.

The embarrassing news is that the nation’s Capital contributed a mere fraction of the total (339 in 2017 nationally) and paints a very poor picture when compared with neighbouring states as also south India.

Last year, the city saw just 14 heart donations in total. If the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO) figures are to be believed, the number stands in sharp contrast to Tamil Nadu with 112 brain dead heart donations, followed by Maharashtra (55), Telangana (42) and Rajasthan (16).

“In 2013 and 2014, no heart was harvested in Delhi. But in 2015, six hearts were retrieved, and in 2016 we recovered 18 hearts. Sadly, one witnessed a drop of four hearts in 2017,” noted NOTTO’s statistics.

Dr Sandeep Seth, professor of cardiology at AIIMS, said that there is a huge gap between the demand and supply of heart in the city. “Every year, Delhi needs 1,000 heart transplants, but very less people get it on time and many patients die due to the unavailability of the organ,” he emphasised.

Explaining the reason for less number of organ donations in the city, Dr Sujay Shad, director of heart transplant division at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said: “In Delhi, the process of declaring a patient brain-dead is not quite clear. Many doctors themselves don’t know when they should certify brain death. Health being a state subject, it’s time the Delhi government initiated an awareness campaign.”

Dr Vimal Bhandari, director of NOTTO, informed that the annual requirement of heart donors in India is about 50,000, but sadly only 339 people are getting the organs.

“Heart transplants in India are quite less compared to other organs such as kidneys and liver. As there is huge scarcity of donors in the country, we are conducting nationwide awareness campaign for general public to participate in organ donations in the country.” In the private set up, heart transplants in the Capital have been conducted at the Escort Heart Institute and Research, Max Hospital, Medanta Hospital, Apollo, Fortis and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

As for the government hospitals, only AIIMS has performed heart transplants. Other government hospitals like the RML Hospital, GB Pant Hospital and Safdarjung Hospital have licences for conducting heart transplants, but they are yet to do a single heart transplant.

Recently, the health ministry got a tip-off that despite a long waiting list for heart recipients in India, a few private hospital were busy transplanting heart to foreigners.

“We got to know about the wrong-doings of a few private hospitals. The health ministry has taken action on it and all private hospitals in the country now have to share the waiting list of the Indian patients who needs an organ transplant,” said Dr Bhandari.

“The health ministry has decided that the first priority must be given to Indian patients, followed by the NIRs. If both are unavailable, then foreigners should get the organs,” informed the NOTTO chief. It is worth mentioning that a retrieved heart from the organ has a life for only six hours.

There have been many instances in the country when due to the lack of coordination between the Centre and state governments, the life-saving heart could not reach to the patients on time.

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