Road Traffic Accidents versus Organ Donation: A Wide Discrepancy

Thousands of people die every day due to the road traffic accidents in India. A very small chunk of these are able to donate their organs. Reason being, the delay that occurs in the process of organ donation. Ideally, the transplant of organs should be done as soon as possible from the brain dead certified patient with the beating heart taken care of in ICU setting on respiratory support system who had suffered roadside accident or brain stroke.

Road traffic accidents have taken a major toll of life in our country. As per World Health Organization (W.H.O.’s) first global status report on “ Road Safety” , our country witnesses over 1,30,000 deaths annually due to road traffic accidents which outweighs the total number of accidents in China and stands first worldwide. The five main risk factors being the speed driving, avoiding helmets, drunken driving, avoiding seat belts and child restraints in vehicles. If the present situation is not taken care of, it is estimated that the number of deaths from road traffic accidents would reach up to 1.9 million by 2020. Till only 28 countries in world representing 416 million people (only 7% of the total world population) have adequate laws addressing all five risk factors.

Hundreds of patients die every day waiting for organ transplantation. Reason being the huge gap between the count of donors and the transplant awaiting patients. The number of people requiring transplant are expected to increase due to rise in ageing population and rising population of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease due to increasing incidence of obesity and diabetes and thus organ failures. International Diabetes Federation published Diabetes Atlas 2006, according to it the number of people with diabetes in India currently around 40.9 million, which is expected to rise to 69.9 million by 2025. Similarly the incidence of obesity is also rapidly rising in India. According to present census, almost 1.5 lakh people in India requires kidney transplant. Out of which only one in every 30 patients gets kidney while other die without getting an organ. Besides around 25000 liver transplants are required annually in our country, out of which around 1000 are done. 70% of these liver transplants occur via live donor and rest 30% by cadaver donor.

Main reasons behind the lack of donors are:

  1. Ignorance/ lack of knowledge about organ donation.
  2. Lack of guidance in registering one’s wish to donate.
  3. Myths and beliefs.

In 2010 WHO and other five consortium partners received funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies to further road safety in ten countries. The “Road Safety in 10 Countries (RS10) Project” supports the governments of Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, Kenya, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Viet Nam by focusing on selected key risks for road traffic crashes. Efforts are focused on strengthening legislation and enforcement, capacity development and educating the public through social marketing campaigns.

Despite the fact that Road traffic accidents are preventable and predictable, they have suffered neglect from global health agenda for many years. However evidences from many countries have shown that a significant success can be attained in preventing road traffic accidents via concerted efforts that involve but are not only limited to the health sector.