SHATAYU, a non-profit organization, is an organ donation awareness initiative by Govindbhai C. Patel foundation which is supported by the Ganesh Housing Group. The organization works to dispel all the doubts and myths regarding organ and tissue donation, through awareness and educational campaigns.
What does Shatayu do?
Shatayu is an NGO that works towards spreading awareness about cadaver organ donation. Our main aim is to educate the people as well as the medical professionals about the importance of organ donation and transplantation. We spread the word about cadaver organ donation through presentations at schools, colleges, religious gatherings, festival celebrations and corporate firms; TV advertisements; social media and print media; and cinemas. We have also conducted door to door awareness campaigns.
When was it founded?
Shatayu was founded on October 19’2009.
Who were the founders?
Shatayu is a public service initiative started by Govindbhai C. Patel Foundation and is supported by Ganesh Housing Corporation. Deepak Patel is the founder and chairman of the organization. It is his own heart transplant surgery in South Africa that encouraged him to start this organization in India to let people know about the importance of organ donation. Supporting him in this tryst is Shekhar G Patel, who is the managing Trustee of Govindbhai C. Patel Foundation. Mrs. Bhavna Chhabaria is the CEO of the foundation.
Why was it founded?
We started this organization for two main reasons: increasing awareness about organ donation and broadening the mindset of people towards registering themselves as organ donors. We found that people’s minds were clouded due to several myths and doubts. We have taken several steps to get rid of these baseless myths and still continue to do so.
How big is your organization and what does your team comprise of?
Our organization has five key members and sixty volunteers. The core team comprises of the chairman, managing trustee, and the CEO.
Where are your offices?
Our office is located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. We do not have any other office currently.
What are the activities that your organization does? (Growing awareness, grief counseling, transplant coordination, training, public interest litigation and more)
As said earlier, our prime focus is on promoting cadaver organ donation among people. We have organized several campaigns quite successfully. We organized a bike rally in 2011 for spreading awareness about organ donation. Almost 500 bikers participated in this rally. Our aim with this rally was to spread awareness among the youngsters in Gujarat.
We have held several campaigns at religious and social gatherings. This has helped us to talk about the myths and misconceptions that people have about organ donation. At each of these places, many people have registered themselves for organ donation. Apart from this, we also regularly conduct presentations at various reputed organizations or companies as a part of their HR activities.
Along with educating people about COD, we also conduct training workshops for transplant coordinators. We have trained nurses and other hospital staff to counsel the families of brain dead patients.
We also organize Hospital Contact Program. Other than the common public, we have realized that even the medical fraternity needs education about organ donation and transplantation. We work with the medical and non medical staff to make them realize the importance of organ donation and also to recognize brain dead patients.
As a part of the organ donation awareness drive, we have also published India’s first comic book on organ donation. The copies of this comic book were distributed to several English medium schools in Ahmedabad. More than 80,000 copies have been distributed free of cost.
What have been the achievements since inception?
Today, Gujarat is one of the leading states in India in case of organ donations. We have been able to make people realize the importance of pledging their organs for donation after their death; it is a major achievement for us. Apart from that, Shatayu entered the Limca Book of Records for organizing the largest motorbike rally in the country.
How many donations has your organization been involved with? Can you give us details?
Through our work at Shatayu, we have been able to help with several organ donation and transplantations. While eye donations continue to happen on a regular basis, we have been involved with five kidney and liver transplants. We have also been involved in ten entire body donations.
What has been the response to the campaigns done by the foundation?
The response that we have received through the campaigns has been fantastic. Till date, several people have pledged their organs at the campaign centers or through the online registration form available on our website.
Shatayu has built effective, long term relationships with hospitals, where organ and tissue donation opportunities occur, through the Hospital Contact Program. Working with hospital administrators, nursing staff, physicians and transplant surgeons, Shatayu’s team conducts awareness talks and promotes organ donation by putting up posters and brochures in the hospitals as well as by educating the nursing and the ICU staff about the importance of organ donation.
Our Training Workshops for Transplant Coordinators have helped to train and enable the nurses and ICU staff of hospitals to effectively counsel grief stricken families of brain dead patients. Shatayu’s team has also been successful in bringing together various hospitals to come forward and participate in the organ donation awareness program.
Are there any interesting stories related to either donors or recipients that you would like to share?
There are several remarkable donor and recipient stories, but the one that I would like to talk about is that of Niksha Talsaniya, a primary school teacher, who died due to brain hemorrhage. Her family gave consent to donate her organs, and her kidneys, liver and corneas were transplanted to patients in need. The relatives of the donor were not aware of organ donation. They contacted Shatayu after seeing a poster regarding organ donation at the hospital. Our counselors met them immediately and explained them the process of organ donation. Mr. Talsaniya, the donor’s husband, said that it was the best gift that his wife gave to humanity.
What are the plans for your organization moving forward?
We plan to publish the comic books on organ donation in Gujrati. Other than that, we are making efforts to include a chapter about organ donation in school syllabus. Also, soon, driving licenses in Gujarat would include organ donation cards.
Causes, Issues and Challenges
What is your point of view on COD in India?
Today, the rate of organ donation is 0.08% donors per million people, which is extremely low. There is a dire need to raise this figure. We have been trying our best to educate people about the necessity of donating organs. However, there is much more to do so that many more people in the country know about it and pledge their organs for donation.
What type of changes have you seen recently in your location, region and across India respectively?
As of now, more than 30,00,000 people are aware of the noble cause of organ donation, and more than 10,000 have pledged for organ donation, and the numbers continue to grow.
What according to you is the reason for this change?
Today, there is lot of awareness about organ donation among the people, mostly because of the efforts taken by organizations like us. Regular media campaigns done by newspapers like Times of India have also helped to make people aware about it.
What is the need of the hour for COD in India?
Educating the masses is very important. Yes, Shatayu and many other NGOs are doing this work, but there are many people in the country who still do not know much about it. Also, those who know about it are clouded by religious myths that prevent them from pledging their organs for donation. To do this, we need the help of the government and the medical fraternity too.
What has been the reaction of the donor families towards your cause?
The reaction from both the sides has always been positive. The donor families feel satisfied that a good deed is done and their loved one will continue to live through others. As for the recipients and their families, it is like they have received a new lease of life.
How can the various stakeholders – Govt, NGOs, Medical fraternity, Social Workers, Masses work together to improve the situation for COD in India?
A lot can be done, especially by the government, to improve the situation of cadaver organ donation in India. The first thing that the government should do is make the organ donation procedure simpler; reducing the paper work involved would be a huge blessing for the donor families. The government should also make an effort to promote organ donation. Campaigns, presentations, brochure distribution, airing advertisements on television as well as at movie theaters, etc., by the government will definitely have a huge impact.
From the medical fraternity, more participation from the doctors and surgeons would really be helpful. When doctors begin to advocate about organ donation, more people are likely to register themselves for cadaver organ donation.
What is the single biggest issue for COD in India?
Doubts and myths regarding organ and tissue donation in India is the biggest issue for COD in India.
What is your view on government policy and effort towards Cadaver Organ Donations in India?
The government should actively take part in this process and propel this initiative, making the laws and policies smoother and encouraging organ donation through mass campaigns.
What are the main issues at the level of private hospitals?
What we have observed that the surgeons at private hospitals do not take active part in the activities related to the issue of organ donation. Having a centralized system like the one that is followed in Tamil Nadu would be helpful.
Which areas does your organization need help with?
We wish that more doctors, especially surgeons, participate in the organ donation drive. From the government, we need more cooperation in making laws that will help the organ donation process easier. Apart from that, introducing some benefits for the donor families, if possible, from the government or the recipient family, would also be beneficial.