Srinagar: Experts on Wednesday stressed that organ shortage was the key roadblock in organ transplants in Jammu and Kashmir.
Experts from various disciplines convened to discuss the pressing issue of organ shortages and the challenges faced in organ transplantation at an event at University of Kashmir (KU).
The event shed light on the importance of organ donation and aimed to find solutions to the prevailing obstacles.
Renowned speakers from various medical fields provided their insights, emphasising the need for increased awareness and religious support to overcome the scarcity of organs.
One of the central themes echoed by the speakers was the shortage of organs, which acts as a major roadblock to successful transplants.
“Despite all religions, including Islam, permitting organ receiving and donation, skepticism and misconceptions persist among potential donors. Concerns regarding religious permissibility, fear of body mutilation during harvesting, delays in funerals, and doubts about fair allocation contribute to the reluctance to pledge organs,” many speakers said.
The event featured notable speakers including Director Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Prof Parvaiz Koul; Head of Urology at GMC Jammu and Nodal Officer SOTTO J&K, Dr Elias Sharma; and Head of the Department of Urology at SKIMS and Head of Kidney Transplant Unit SKIMS, Soura, Saleem Wani; Principal of GMC Jammu, Dr Tariq Qureshi; HoD Nephrology, SKIMS Soura, Dr Mohammad Ashraf Bhat; Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at GMC Srinagar Dr Muhammad Ommid; Assistant Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at GMC Srinagar, Dr Aalia Rasool; and Dr Yasfir Bashir from the Eye Care and Research Center Srinagar shared their expertise on the subject.
Prof Koul said SKIMS has been the front-runner in transplant programmes in J&K with routine kidney and stem cell transplantation.
He said that the institute was strengthening the existing programme and was planning to foray into liver transplantation.
"While strengthening the current programme, we wish to start cadaver transplantation and have moved a lot ahead in that direction. We will continue to produce skilled manpower that runs other institutions that are also starting these services and provide support to them," Prof Koul said.
He said SKIMS would continue sensitising people about the need, safety and feasibility of organ donation and would happily collaborate with other institutions for the larger good of the programme.
Dr Saleem Wani emphasised the moral obligation in Islam to save lives, stating, "Muslims have been told that if they save one life, it is like they have saved the entire humanity."
He encouraged Muslims to consider organ donation as a means of fulfilling this obligation and debunked myths surrounding the process.
Currently, kidney transplants dominate the field of organ transplants in J&K, primarily conducted at institutions like SKIMS, GMC Srinagar, and GMC Jammu. However, challenges like finding suitable live donors, restricted mainly to family members, persist.
Addressing the critical deficiencies in organ transplantation, Dr Elias Sharma highlighted the urgent need to address infrastructure deficiencies, shortage of trained manpower, lack of staff sensitisation, and inadequate financial provisions.
He stressed the significance of addressing these systemic challenges to facilitate successful organ transplants.
The event also addressed the need for cornea transplants, which play a vital role in addressing blindness caused by corneal diseases.
Prof Tariq Qureshi shared the progress of cornea transplants, particularly at GMC Srinagar, where an eye bank was approved during his tenure as the Head of the Department of Ophthalmology, GMC Srinagar.
He revealed that in 2018, 91 individuals received corneal transplants, underscoring the expertise available in the region.
Dr Aaliya Bashir highlighted that corneal diseases rank as the second leading cause of blindness in India.
However, the scarcity of corneas remains a significant hurdle in providing vision to those affected.
Dr Yasfir Bashir shed light on the history of eye transplants in Kashmir, tracing back to the first successful transplant in 1973 at GMC Srinagar.
He emphasised the importance of religion in promoting organ donation and compared organ donation statistics between India and other countries.
KU Vice Chancellor Prof Nilofer Khan expressed her institution's commitment to advancing organ donation.
She pledged her support and willingness to collaborate with the medical fraternity to increase the acceptability of organ donation and availability of organs for those in need.
The event at KU served as a platform to address the challenges of organ shortages and promote awareness about organ donation and transplantation.
The consensus among the experts was that greater involvement from religious scholars, organisations, and the public, along with improved infrastructure and sensitisation, was crucial to overcoming the shortage of organs and ensuring life-saving transplants for patients in J&K.