A National symposium on Organ Donation and Transplantation was organised by PSG Institute of Medical Sciences and Research & PSG Hospitals in association with Transplant Authority of Tamil Nadu (TRANSTAN) and Indian Association for Transplant Coordinators (IATC) on 16th February 2019 in Coimbatore. There were about 100 participants that included transplant coordinators from across the country. Dr. Sumana Navin, Course Director, MOHAN Foundation was invited to be on the faculty for the symposium.
At the inaugural function, the Chief Guest Dr. B. Ashokan, Dean, Coimbatore Medical College felicitated donor family members, Mr. Muraleedharan and Mr. Anbu Raj. Mr. Muraleedharan donated his wife Mrs. Sarala Muraleedharan’s organs and Mr. Anbu Raj donated his son Master. David Raj’s organs – a remarkable gift to humanity at a time of unspeakable grief. The other dignitaries present were Dr. R. Kanthimathy, Member Secretary, TRANSTAN, Mr. L. Gopalakrishnan, Managing Trustee, PSG Hospitals, Dr. J. Amalorpavanathan, Former Member Secretary, TRANSTAN, Dr. L. Venkatakrishnan, Professor and HOD, Medical Gastroenterology, PSG Hospitals, and Mr. Nethaji J, Vice President, IATC.
The academic programme covered a gamut of topics that were of key relevance to transplant coordinators. The seven main segments were –
1. Brain death declaration and certification
2. HLA/Cross match and transplantation
3. Policy, rules and regulations
4. Handling the deceased organ donor family
5. Living donor transplantation – documentation challenges
6. Multi-organ retrieval
7. Panel Discussion on logistics of organ transfer
The programme moderators were Mr. Nethaji J, Vice President, IATC and Mr. Mukesh G, State Secretary Tamil Nadu Chapter, IATC. In each of the sessions transplant coordinators shared their experiences and perspectives as well as gave practical inputs on how to tackle challenges in a given scenario.
Dr. Sumana Navin’s session focussed on clarifying certain medical, legal and ethical aspects related to brain-stem death certification as per the Transplantation of Human Organs Act. The protocols followed in various ICUs were examined that included total time for testing (brainstem reflexes as well as apnoea test), time of first testing and second testing, and time of death. The need for a uniform definition of death was also discussed.
The debate on ‘Should we incentivise the deceased organ donor family’ drew impassioned arguments from both the ‘For’ and ‘Against’ teams of transplant coordinators. It seemed like the ‘Against’ team had the audience on its side with Mr. Girish Shetty, Transplant coordinator, Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad saying that if one were to incentivise, the family would no longer be seen as a ‘donor’ but a ‘vendor’.
The segment on multi-organ retrieval brought to life the environment in an Operation Theatre (OT) during a retrieval through a video cast from the Simulation Lab at PSG Hospitals. Dr. S. Swaminathan and Dr. B. Joseph John from the department of HPB Surgery & Liver Transplant, PSG Hospitals took the participants through the retrieval process.
The panel discussion on the logistics of organ transfer was timely given the increasing number of heart as well as lung transplantations that are taking place. The panelists included Mr. Mahalingam, Airport Director, Airports Authority of India, Coimbatore International Airport, the Deputy Commandant, CISF and airlines’ managers. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Nethaji J. Every airline as well as airport has requirements for organ transportation that differ from hospitals. The discussion looked at whether it was possible to have a uniform protocol for organ transportation for all airlines and airports that would tie in with the medical requirement.
The chief organisers of the symposium were Mr. C.B.Chandrasekaran, Manager – Multi Organ Transplantation and Medical Tourism and President IATC, and Ms. Rathi R, Senior Clinical Nurse Specialist, Dept. of Gastroenterology& Multi-Organ Transplantation, PSG Hospitals, Coimbatore. The symposium truly exemplified the theme of ‘Working together – the key to successful transplantation.’