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India facing acute shortage of organ donors

New Delhi: India is facing an acute shortage of organ donors due to prevalence of myths and superstitions, and the country should bring in changes to organ donation laws to alleviate the situation, an health expert said here Wednesday.

The "donor scene" in India is "dismal", said the expert, Aarti Vij of AIIMS, despite amendments to the 1994 Transplantation of Human Organs Act (ThOA) were made after a thriving kidney donation racket in northern India was unearthed.

"In India 200,000 people need a new kidney every year and 100,000 need a new liver, but only 2 to 3 percent of the demand for new organs is met," said Vij, head of the Organ Retrival Banking Organisation (ORBO) at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

She was speaking at the launch of a campaign named "We welfare society", an initiative to make people aware about organ donation across India.

She said that in the last couple of years there has been almost no improvement in the organ donation situation. "Things have not changed at all. People are not ready to part with organs of their loved ones even after death."

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), only about 0.01 percent in India donate their organs after death, while in Western countries around 70-80 percent of people pledge their organs.

Vij said the situation globally is much better than in India.

"The scenario in Western countries is better as after the death of the individuals the state becomes the custodian of the dead body, who take out the organs so that they can be transplanted to a needy person's body," Vij told IANS.

She said religious leaders could be roped in to make people aware of the need for organ donation. "People have weird thinking like donating organ can lead the individual to hell after death."

According to the ORBO-AIIMS, over 22,000 people across the country have registered since 2010 to donate their organs after their death.

"India should make changes in the laws of organ donation, as many a time though the individual agrees to donate his organ, the relatives refuse to donate his organs after his death, which is a colossal barrier," Vij said.

AIIMS Tuesday celebrated the completion of the 20th year of Heart transplant.

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