Interview : Dr. Vimal Bhandari

Mahesh from Dadhichi Deh Dan Samiti spoke to Dr. Vimal Bhandari, Director NOTTO, on various activities of NOTTO, challenges and future plans.

Q. What is NOTTO’s main , objectives and its functioning?
Ans. National Organ & Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) was established in 2010 under the aegis of DGHS, MOHFW, GOI. It is an Apex National Body to create a National networking and registry. NOTTO started functioning in January 2014.

It is creating awareness among the people on Deceased Organ Donation. As of now, there are about 2 lakh persons suffering from kidney failure and 50,000 each persons are suffering from heart and Liver failure. Thus, there is a huge gap between the donors and the recipients. In order to reduce this gap we need “awareness campaign” to promote deceased organ donation. Despite the fact of 125 crore population in India, we have received approximately13 lakh pledges only. It is also fact that we are unable to create awareness on organ donation among the rural population.

The aim of NOTTO is 360 degree approach by all means of communication available. The aim of NOTTO is also to make a retrieval center at each district hospital and medical colleges and in this direction, we have conducted a live two days workshop at M.S. Ramaiah Medical College, Bangalore on 23rd-24th March 2017 to train the heart, liver, kidney transplant surgeons represented from the states where no transplantation activity is carried out so far.

Q. Current status of NOTTO-rules and regulations ?
Ans. NOTTO which came into existence in 2014, is governed by the Rules regulations specified in the THOTA Act notified on 27th March 2014, in the Gazette of India. As of now, In India, approximately 301 centers are performing transplant activities, out of which 161 centers who are actively performing this task. There are only 13 states who are carrying this activity out of 29 States and UTs. At the regional Level, NOTTO has five ROTTOs one each at KEM Mumbai, Guwahati Medical College, Guwahati, PGI Chandigarh, PGIMER-Kolkata, Medical College Chennai. Also at the State level, NOTTO has six identified designated SOTTOs in the States which are newly established Institutes like AIIMS Raipur, AIIMS Bhubaneswar, AIIMS jodhpur, AIIMS Bhopal and AIIMS Rishikesh. Indore and Bhopal are emerging cities for retrieval and transplant in their respective areas The Government of India has released funds more than Rs. 1 crore to each ROTTO for covering the States under their jurisdiction and most of them are functional. In the next financial year, Government is propose to open SOTTOs in the capital of each State.

Allocation Policy of Heart, Liver, and Pancreas has already been finalized and placed on the official website of NOTTO i.e www.notto.gov.in. We are also in the process of digitizing the allocation policy, sensitizing the ICU staff and conducting workshops at different places. NOTTO is committed for promoting the Deceased Organ Donation. In order to avoid the wastage of organs, a proposal for air lifting the organs is under process for approval of the Government as these are national resources and is required to be saved. NOTTO celebrates National Organ Day on 27th November 2016 each year and this year “7th National Organ Donation Day” was celebrated on 30th November 2016 at Constitution Club of India, New Delhi to felicitate the donor families from all the States. Momentos were given to best hospitals, best coordinators and best States for rendering maximum number of retrieval of organs in the Country. Special awards were also given to emerging states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in recognition of their performance.

Q. What have you inherited and what are your future plans ?
Ans. We had 10,000 pledges and much was needed regarding the awareness among the mass. To enroll more and more people we started engaging with NGO”s like Dadhichi Deh Dan Samiti, Organ India, Mohan Foundation to name a few. We also approached organizations like BSF, CRPF. Today we have 13 lakh pledges and now we can say this number is steadily increasing. This is certainly a big achievement.

This programme cannot succeed without Transplant Coordinators. NOTTO has also trained around 500 Transplant Coordinators. During this year, NOTTO has retrieved around 100 retrievals from various cities in India for distribution and subsequent transplantation in various states.

Sensitization of ICU doctors and staff is another step which we are taking to further augment our mission. Awareness among students in school & colleges through play, walkathon, stall and talks is another priority.

With the full dedicated support of Shri J P Nadda,Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Minister and DGHS Dr. (Prof) Jagdish Prasad, we are very positive about future.

Q . What is the status of organ donation in Delhi – NCR region. Is it lagging behind ?
Ans. We are also SOTTO for Delhi – NCR region. It is not correct to say that the region is lagging. Comparing the situation few years back, we are getting more organs now. Out of 100 retrievals last year many were from this region. To promote the cause further we are in touch with Delhi government and its hospitals. Hopefully organ retrievals will see a quantum Jump in future.

Q. Coordination of NOTTO with states is very important in formation of National registry. How you plan to execute this ?
Ans. NOTTO is still in infancy. We are in process of building the registry. Coordination with state health department is crucial and we are actively pursuing it. Our aim is to make the complete data of available organs, list of waiting patients so that no organ goes waste for want of recipient.

Q. What inspires you the most to work for Organ Donation ?
Ans. Being a Surgeon for the last 35 years, I deeply felt the sufferings of the people of end stage organ failures and not receiving the proper treatment and being died due to non-availability of transplant facilities in every State. This motivated me to work in the field of transplant Unit and open a kidney transplant unit at Asia’s one of the biggest Central Government Hospital VMMC & Safdarjung Hospital for the last five years. Thousand of poorest of poor patients visit for the treatment daily. In view of the need of the hour and the magnitude of the problem, this motivated and inspires me to work for the welfare of the mankind.