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Organ Donation and Medical Tourism in India

In a latest survey on medical tourism, India beat countries such as Canada and Japan to emerge as the most preferred destination especially for organ transplants. With healthcare facilities that are at par with the developed countries of the world, Indian hospitals offer treatment at almost 50% of the cost. For example, liver transplant cost in India is almost a fraction of what it costs in America.

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Indian hospitals have seen a boom in foreign nationals as patients in the last decade and its medical industry has kept up with the growth. Some hospitals have dedicated staff and processes to cater to the various needs of patients from other countries. For example, not every patient can communicate in English or speak any of the languages or dialects commonly associated with India. Several independent agencies help to bridge this communication gap and help with the enormous paper work and formalities required for foreign patients by providing interpreters and visa experts.

Countries like the United States have expensive healthcare which makes treatment options out of reach for many who do not have sufficient insurance. As compared to the western world, the wait times for organ transplant operations are much lower in India. In addition, key Indian hospitals have remained in the news for delivering breakthrough surgeries in liver, kidney and heart transplants. When compared to figures in developed countries, the cost for kidney transplant in India is much lower. Coupled with at par facilities, skills and convinience, India creates a much better picture than other countries who offer the same facilities.

Certain organs like the kidney and liver can be directly transplanted from donors who are relatives who are a perfect match. In certain cases like heart transplant, the donor has to be brain-dead and all provisions of the India law regarding organ donations apply. According to the existing conditions and laws in India, organ tissue and organ transplants from live donors is a much easier process than those from dead persons. This is mainly due to the disparity and low awareness of organ donation after the occurence of death in the country.

Unlike with other surgeries, organ transplant surgeries require extra care to ward off infections and rejection of the transplanted organ. Therefore, while the cost of heart transplant in India is less, the post-operative care is at par.

To say that the organ transplant sector in India is a smooth one would not be right. India faces the same problems as other developed countries do in the supply and demand of organs needed for transplant. Not many of its enormous population of a billion and more, opt for donating their organs which means that fewer organs are available for transplant as opposed to actual numbers needed. As opposed to developed countries, India lacks in having a centralised donor base for organ donations. Trafficking of organs is a rampant practice in the country and patients need to be vary of getting involved in rackets with or without their knowledge.

Awareness campaigns for organ donations are being organised to make India better in its availability of organs to save many lives. Dedicated organ transplant corridors have been marked by the administration and police for uninterrupted passage of organs in many cities including New Delhi and Hyderabad to transplant organs from donors to receivers in the shortest possible time.

With such focus on organ transplants, India is rightfully poised to emerge as the top organ transplant destination and change the lives of many who would otherwise have little hope left live or lead a normal life.