Women generous, men stingy as kidney donors

Women in Kashmir are quite large-hearted when it comes to donating kidneys. As recipients, however, they are not as lucky as men.

From 1999, when kidney transplants were started at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), till August last year, 279 transplants have been carried out in Kashmir, according to data maintained by Kidney Transplant Unit of the institute.

Of these 279 patients, at least 211 recipients, 75.6 percent of the total recipients, were males.

The rest were women, less than a quarter of all kidney recipients, although kidney diseases that warrant a transplant affect men and women similarly.

Prof Saleem Wani, head of Kidney Transplant Unit at SKIMS, expressed concern at gender disparity in kidney transplants.

“It is a genuine concern and needs to be looked into collectively at societal level,” he said.

On the other hand, when it comes to kidney donation, women are at the forefront. Nearly two out of every three people donating a kidney are women. At SKIMS, out of the 279 kidney donations, 168 (60.3 percent) have been done by women, while 111 (39.7 percent) kidney donations have been made by men.

Mothers are the single largest category of kidney donors. At SKIMS, nearly 32 percent of kidney donations have been done by mothers to their off-springs while fathers have been donors to about 14 percent recipients.

As per the data, wives donating a kidney to husband was also common, with 50 such transplants carried out at SKIMS.

Prof Wani said the societal set-up, where male was seen as “the one doing physical labour” was contributing to the trend of lesser number of them coming forward to donate.

Prof Wani said that the trend of wives donating a kidney to husband was “old one” but the reverse was “quite rare”.

“But it is picking up now,” he said.

He said the trend picked up after an elderly Pulwama man donated a kidney to his ailing wife at the SKIMS.

“People now see there have been examples in the past and that motivates them. It is a ray of hope,” Prof Wani said.

Kidney diseases affect thousands in Kashmir. In most of these cases, patients’ kidneys are unable to perform the function of removing toxins from body, necessitating lifelong dependence on dialysis or transplant of a healthy kidney.

Across genders, there was a huge gap between availability and demand of donors. Currently, all organs used in transplants are sourced from living people in Kashmir. Prof Wani said that the problem could be addressed by cadaver (deceased’s body) transplantation.

However due to lack of awareness, infrastructure and an official sanction for it, no such program has been started here. Prof Wani said that a proposal for setting up a cadaver transplant institute had been submitted to SKIMS authorities but was yet to be approved. “Such a system will help in addressing gender disparity in kidney transplants to a great extent,” he said.

Director SKIMS Prof Omar Javed Shah said “solid organ transplants from cadavers” was being worked upon.

“It is my dream and a commitment to the institute to start such a center here,” he said.