World Organ Donation Day: India's Big Facts, Explained In 9 Cards

Every 10 minutes, at least one more person is being added to the waitlist of people who need an organ donation.

2 min read

The world’s first-ever organ transplant that was successfully carried out was way back in 1954 in the United States when Ronald Lee Herrick had donated one of his kidneys to his twin brother Richard. For this surgery, the doctor, Joseph Murray, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1990. 

In India, the first organ donation was a kidney transplant that was conducted in 1965 at Mumbai's King Edward Memorial Hospital.

This World Organ Donation Day, 13 August, let’s zoom into some statistics from India.

India’s organ donation rate stands at 0.52 per million population. Between 2014-2022, the numbers of donors increased from 6,919 to 16,041.

In December 2022, the Union Health Ministry told the Parliament that the highest number of donations between 2017-2022 was seen in 2019 – when 12,746 organs were harvested. 

From every donor, eight organs can be transplanted:

However, out of the 8 organs, on average, only 2.6 are being used for transplantation in India at the moment.

The Disparity in Numbers

As an estimate, annually…

  • 2 lakh people need a kidney but only 8,000 receive it

  • 80,000 people need a new liver but only 1,800 receive it

  • 10,000 people need a new heart but only 200 receive it

  • 2 lakh people need new corneas but less than 50,000 can get it

The numbers, shared by the Union Health Ministry, are concerning because every 10 minutes, at least one more person is being added to the waitlist of people who need an organ donation. Over 3 lakh people are already in the waitlist.

At least 20 people die each day while being on that waitlist. 

States That Lead in Organ Donation

  • Telangana

  • Tamil Nadu

  • Karnataka

  • Maharashtra

  • Gujarat

In 2021, 85 percent of deceased donations in the country were made in these five states. However, Delhi took the lead in the number of living donors that year. 

India stands at number three when it comes to the number of transplants conducted globally each year. In 2022, for the first time, India achieved more than 15,000 transplants.

Huge Gaps Between Deceased & Living Donors

The number of deceased donors in India has been gradually slowing down. In 2019, 16.77 percent of all organ donations came from deceased donors. In 2021, this number reduced to 14.07 percent. 

The number of living donations is also more because kin of patients often donate their kidneys and liver to them. 

Can something be done about this to prevent savable deaths?

The number can be increased if:
  • Stricter laws are brought in for organ donation.

  • Awareness campaigns are held about organ donation frequently and in various places.

  • Organs of deceased road accident victims are harvested. 

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