Citizen lobbying gets RTO support for organ donation

Bangalore will be the first city to pilot a project to allow Driving License applicants to consent to pledging their organs, at the time of license application. An initiative of Gift Your Organ Foundation (GYOF), the pilot will start on July 24th, at Electronic City RTO and will expand to other RTOs across the city and state in due course.

GYOF, setup with a vision of ensuring there are no deaths in India due to shortage of organ donors, has been working with the Department of Health and Family Welfare and the Department of Transport, Government of Karnataka for the past few months. The state government approved the pilot in late June.

With less than one organ donor in-a-million in India and over three million deaths since 2005 due to non-availability of organs, there is a great need to educate the public about organ donation. Given that every month more than one lakh driver’s license cards are being issued in Karnataka alone, GYOF felt this platform is a great way to reach out and educate the public about organ donation.

In a meeting with the Health Secretary E V Ramana Reddy, Dr D Ramesh, Secretary, Zonal Co-ordination Committee in Karnataka for Transplantation (ZCCK), Hemanth Kumar, Joint Commissioner of Transport and other officials, Sameer Dua, GYOF founder had given a detailed presentation on the current scenario, including statistics, of organ transplantation in Karnataka.

In the last four years, Zonal Coordination Committee in Karnataka for Transplantations (ZCCK), the government body responsible for organ transplantation process in the state, has received just 1072 pledges.

Dr Ramesh spoke about the issues being faced by ZCCK in the meeting. “Since there are no funds training of transplant coordinators, awareness programs etc,. are limited”, he said.

Dua recommended that an organ donation form should be given along with the Driver’s license Application Form. Given the huge demand for organs for transplant in India, “One of the best ways to reach out to public and give them an opportunity to pledge organs is when they apply for a new DL or renew the old one”, Dua said.

Hemanth Kumar voiced concern over operational issues such as setting up a systematic process for giving the pledge forms, collecting the forms, updating the database, maintenance of pledges and organ donor sticker. “Training of RTO officers on organ transplantation should also be given”, he suggested.

In the pilot project, those applying for driverʼs license will be provided information on organ donation. There will also be educative posters and video films at the RTO. An organ donor sticker (indicated by a green heart shaped symbol) will be printed on the Driving License card of those consenting to the pledge.

In the pilot project at Electronic City RTO, volunteers from GYOF will support the RTO officials in handling the pledge forms. The RTO which sees around 150 applicants a day will serve as a model for the other RTOs. Those who pledge their organs will server as an example for the rest of us.

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