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Exchange donor programme future of transplant surgery: Doctors


New Delhi : After a Nigerian toddler and an Indian woman became India’s first case of swap liver transplant surgery, doctors believe that exchange of organs between two needy families will reduce the demand for cadaver donations and improve the success ratio of transplants in India.

“Swap transplant or exchange donor programme is going to help the transplant surgery discipline in a major way. This will reduce donor rejection rate,” Sanjiv Saigal, senior hepatologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told IANS.

An 18-month-old Nigerian child Dike and 44-year-old Mumbai resident Priya were Wednesday declared India’s first successful liver swap transplant surgery patients.

Unable to find matching donors, doctors from Ganga Ram hospital decided to try out a liver swap — a family member of Priya donated a portion of liver to Dike, a member of Dike’s family donated a portion of liver for Priya.

“Finally two families got a new lease if life and now they are joined by a common bond,” Saigal, who was one of the team member of the 16-hour surgery said.

According to an estimate, every year nearly 100,000 patients need kidney transplant but the only 3,000 undergo surgery as there is a huge shortage of organs.

Cadaver donation in India is not peaking as desired and thus live donor transplants are taking place. But here too getting a matching donor is not easy all the time.

There is a huge gap between and demand and availability of liver for transplant surgery.

Saigal said it’s known that there is a huge shortage of donated organs in India because of which tens of thousands of people face a death threat every year. “Swap transplant of kidney and liver can reduce this backlog up to 30 percent.”

S.V. Kotwal, a senior neurologist at the Rockland Hospital in New Delhi, said: “Exchange donor programme is perfectly legal. It holds a lot of promise for future. This will help more people to live a normal life.”

Mukut Minz, head of the department of transplant surgery at the Post Graduate Institute Chandigarh, told IANS by phone: “Yes, swap transplant is an important medium to tackle the organ donation. You cannot get swap transplant cases many often but I can say that this method augurs well for patients and their families.”

He said swap transplant may be new in India, but “it is continuously growing in Korea and the US”. Minz and his team has done at least six swap kidney transplants.