India’s other gender inequality: Most of country’s organ donors are women who give kidneys to men, says survey
An organ transplant coordinator in India’s Hyderabad city said the feeling is that if something happens to the woman, it’s not so bad compared to something happening to the man, because she is usually a housewife.
Representational Image (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
IN a discomforting revelation, a survey has found that in India, the majority of organ donors are women who almost everytime donate their kidneys to men.
Between 1995 and 2021, among 36,640 transplant recipients, four-fifths of living donors were women, while four-fifths of recipients were men, as per data analysis by the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO), New Delhi.
An editorial in the Times of India said they showed an “overwhelmingly one-sided flow of organs from mothers and wives to husbands and sons”.
NOTTO director Dr Anil Kumar emphasized that assuming equal prevalence of conditions requiring transplants for both genders is essential. He expressed concern if women requiring transplants aren’t receiving the necessary treatment, highlighting it as a significant issue.
The biggest number of donations from living donors are for kidneys. There are also donations of a part of pancreas, liver or lung but they are much lesser in number.
Speaking to The Times, Dr Srivari Bhanuchandra, organ transplant coordinator at Osmania General Hospital in Hyderabad in the southern Indian state of Telangana said, “The feeling is that if something happens to the woman it’s not so bad as if something happens to the man, because she is usually a housewife and if something happens to her after donating, at least the husband is there to look after the children.”
He also said that it was less common for a husband to donate an organ to wife. Bhanuchandra added that even if the woman accepts the offer in the beginning, she is put under pressure to refuse, thanks to discouragement that comes from her husband’s parents and even her own parents.
“But in the reverse situation, when the husband needs it, both sets of parents tell her to donate,” he was quoted as saying.
There are also cases when a man will take an organ from his wife even if his own brother would be an ideal donor.
Dr Anupam Sibal, a paediatric liver transplant surgeon at New Delhi’s Indraprastha Apollo Hospital told the Times of India that things were starting to look better with more men coming forward due to counselling.
The proportion of donations from women at his hospital has come down from 75 per cent to 51 per cent after doctors reassured the male patients that they would fully recover after surgery.