Uttar Pradesh: Gender Disparity In Kidney Transplants Seen As Women Bear Unequal Burden

Uttar Pradesh: Gender Disparity In Kidney Transplants Seen As Women Bear Unequal Burden

The gender disparity in kidney transplants is evident in the data from Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences, where an overwhelming 70 per cent of donors are female.

BISWAJEET BANERJEEUpdated: Thursday, March 07, 2024, 08:44 PM IST
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In a poignant portrayal of the persistent gender gap in kidney transplants, Ramesh Sinha, a bullion trader from Lucknow, underwent a successful kidney transplant at the Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences (RMLIMS) on February 24.

What sets this case apart is the stark reluctance of his two brothers and sons to donate a kidney, citing concerns about their "physical strength."

Ultimately, it was his wife, Kamla, and daughter who stepped forward, with Kamla's kidney proving to be a compatible match, shedding light on broader societal issues regarding organ donation and gender roles.

Dr Abhilash Chandra, Head of the Nephrology Department at RMLIMS, expressed deep concern over the prevailing trend, emphasizing the disproportionate burden borne by women in kidney donation. He remarked, "Women, particularly mothers, often endure the physical and emotional toll of kidney donation, underscoring deep-seated societal inequalities."

The gender disparity in kidney transplants is evident in the data from RMLIMS, where an overwhelming 70 per cent of donors are female. Many of these donors are mothers, sacrificing their own health for the well-being of their loved ones. Despite efforts to provide unbiased counseling, gender stereotypes continue to influence donor decisions, perpetuating a cycle of inequality.

While RMLIMS has conducted over 170 kidney transplants since 2016, averaging 3-4 surgeries per month, challenges persist in promoting deceased donor transplantation due to a lack of awareness and support. This highlights a broader issue within the healthcare system, where equitable access to healthcare resources remains elusive, particularly for marginalised groups.

Dr SK Pandey, a Medical Officer at RMLIMS, emphasized the entrenched gender disparities within the healthcare system, stating, "Despite advancements in medical science, women continue to disproportionately shoulder the responsibility of organ donation, often at great personal cost."

Kamla Sinha's decision to donate her kidney to her husband reflects the selflessness and resilience of women in the face of adversity. She stated, "I have seen people living a healthy life even with one kidney, and so I decided to donate my kidney. Maine koi mahaan kaam nahi kiya (I have not done something great)."

At the national level, the gender gap in organ transplants persists, as evidenced by data from the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO). Men comprise four out of every five organ recipients between 1995 and 2021, highlighting systemic biases within the healthcare system.

A comprehensive study titled "Gender Bias in Kidney Donation in India: Has It Changed Over the Past 2 Decades?" conducted by Sameer Bhuwania et al analysed 557 kidney transplants, revealing a concerning 78.5% higher incidence of donation among women. The study identified mothers, spouses, siblings, and daughters as the primary contributors to this gender imbalance.

Even in the waitlisting of kidney transplants, a gender disparity persists, with only 22 per cent of females on dialysis on the transplant waitlist compared to 30 per cent of males, despite females having fewer medical comorbidities. This disparity underscores the need for a more equitable allocation of organs, particularly for disadvantaged populations such as women.

Dr Samarjeet Srivastava, a nephrologist, emphasised the importance of addressing gender disparities in organ transplantation. He stated, "Transplantation is a life-saving therapy for patients suffering from end-organ failure. However, organ shortage remains a limiting factor in access to this treatment option, and women continue to experience injustice in access to transplantation (ATT)."

As RMLIMS continues its efforts to bridge the gender gap in kidney donations, the institution advocates for societal change and equitable access to healthcare. Dr. Chandra affirmed, "Every life saved through transplantation is a testament to our collective humanity. Let us unite in ensuring that no one bears the burden alone."

The story of Ramesh and Kamla Sinha serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of addressing gender disparities in organ donation and transplantation. It is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together towards a future where healthcare is truly accessible to all, irrespective of gender. As the nation grapples with healthcare challenges, addressing these disparities must remain a priority to ensure a more equitable and inclusive healthcare system for all.

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