Medicos Bank On Organ Donation As Lifestyle Affects Vitals In Kashmir

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Srinagar- As medical reports and researches are showing a stark spike in lifestyle disorders rendering vitals redundant, a demand for organ banking has gained momentum in the valley with medicos campaigning for the critical healthcare facility and awareness among people.

“We still lack organ-retrieval units here. If someone donates an organ, it needs to be preserved,” says Dr. Nisar ul Hassan, President Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK). “Even top hospitals like SKIMS and SMHS lack that facility. And besides Kidney-transplantation, there’s no other solid-organ transplantation that happens in Kashmir.”

Kashmir’s appetite for organs is not unknown. Back in the day when the 2016 crisis damaged eyes in the region, there was a massive surge in the demand for eye-banks. However, even after six years, J&K has no functional eye banks.

“People are not naïve. If the Government shows an intent to establish such facilities, people will themselves join that initiative,” Dr Nisar told Kashmir Observer.

Echoing similar views, Dr Khursheed Iqbal, a prominent cardiologist from the valley says that organ-retrieval units are an important pillar of health-infrastructure. “But, this cannot be true for every organ. Not every organ can be preserved for a long time. Organ-retrieval units may be an essential requirement for cornea related issues but not for every organ.” Dr. Khurshid told Kashmir Observer.

However, a doctor from State Organ & Tissue Transplant Organization (SOTTO) J&K says that the primary question should be the availability of specialists.

“Facilities are a secondary thing. Before that, we’ve to look at the availability of surgeons. If we’ve enough surgeons then the government should establish new centres. Lack of infrastructure is also pushing many locals to travel to other parts of India where the enormous cost of transplantation and post-surgery care continue to play spoilsport,” the doctor wishing anonymity told Kashmir Observer.

Pertinently, many people that Kashmir Observer contacted have received information regarding organ donation from unreliable sources. Perhaps, that’s why experts are calling for more awareness among people about organ-donation. There is a unanimous agreement among experts in Kashmir that organ donation can be increased by awareness created through textbooks, internet, open discussions and improving doctor-patient relationship.

“We’ve to generate awareness among people. Despite a religious go-ahead, there hasn’t been much acceptance among people regarding organ-donation. People are reluctant not only in categoric donation but also in live donation. This can only be tackled with education and awareness among people. Not much effort has been put in by departments and hospitals. A push from religious bodies is also required,” said Dr Nisar ul Hassan, adding that when it comes to saving a human life, nothing should stop us.

Even Dr Khursheed says that people are still hesitant about donating organs. “So, a huge gap exists between transplants awaited and organs available. This lack of awareness and lack of care has to end,” Dr Khursheed added.

Not only that, even religion is another factor that repeatedly comes up in the minds of experts. While many religious scholars consider organ donation a permissible act, some scholars in Kashmir still suggest organ donation has no mention in the Islamic scriptures and thus needs to stop.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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