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Covid-19: Hit by pandemic, organ transplant hopes up again
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MUMBAI: Ahmedabad resident Vishnubhai Patel has been camping in the city with his 31-year-old son Aniket, who urgently needs a heart and liver transplant. Although he has lived with a congenital heart defect all his life, Aniket’s condition has significantly progressed in the past two years with his liver getting affected now. Simple tasks like eating, walking, talking have become laborious for him.
Patel’s hopes of saving his only son are hinging on Mumbai’s organ donation programme kicking up steam after being badly hit by the pandemic. In what could be reassuring for patients like Aniket, the Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC) that distributes cadaver organs has now collated data to show that with appropriate protocols, transplants can be carried out with no increased risk of contracting Covid. It has analysed all 87 transplants carried out in the pandemic period—36 between March and December 2020 and 51 in 2021—and found not a single infection among recipients or healthcare workers. In this period, there have been 40 kidney transplants, 23 liver transplants, 15 heart transplants, and six lung transplants, all facilitated by cadaver donations.
“Hospitals must make efforts to restart their programmes as lives are at stake,” said Dr S K Mathur, president, ZTCC. He added that people living with end stage organ failure face an equal risk of suffering from Covid complications as those with other comorbidities.
In 2020, the count of cadaver donations had dropped to 30, a 69% decline from the previous year, as hospitals devoted ICUs and manpower to Covid. This year too, there have been only 17 donations so far.
But in some hospitals, things have begun to look up. Dr Satish Javali, cardiothoracic surgeon at Fortis Hospital, said they have started getting calls from people wanting to donate.

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