Despite the surge in liver disorders in the Valley, liver transplant--- a life-saving facility --- is still a non-existent in the hospitals across the Kashmir.
The authorities had approved a liver transplant unit for Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura about eight years back.
However, the life-saving unit has not been made functional taking a toll on patient care.
A SKIMS official told Rising Kashmir that when the facility was approved, a yearly grant of one crore was sanctioned for the placement of trained staff.
However, unfortunately neither the infrastructure was developed nor was staff trained, he said.
Director SKIMS, Dr Omar Javid Shah, said they are working on strategies and are in contact with some best liver transplant centres of India.
“We are sending our people for training in these centres. We are looking forward to introduce the liver transplant facility in the hospital in near future,” he said.
The premier health institute of the Valley has no separate hepatobiliary department, which speaks volumes about the failure of the authorities to overhaul the healthcare.
Doctors at Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar, expressed concern over non-availability of the transplant facility in its associated hospitals.
“The medical college is one of the oldest medical colleges in North India and first one in the state and it is yet to establish a separate hepatobiliary department,” they said.
A doctor at GMC said at many places across India, where liver transplant facilities are available, special health teams help people for donations too.
He said the main cause behind liver disorders in the valley is hepatitis. “In the long run, it (hepatitis) affects the liver and in major cases, liver transplantation is the only option.”
“We also need to sensitize butchers, who sell meat and organs without following any procedures. The establishment of hepatobiliary surgery department is need of the hour,” said the doctor.
He said no proper data is available at GMC about the number of patients affected by the liver diseases.
“The record is still maintained in an old-fashioned way. To recognize and cure any disease, data is must,” said the doctor.
Head department of surgery, GMC Srinagar, Dr Showkat Jeelani said liver diseases are very common in Kashmir.
“The syndrome would have been wiped out had authorities started the liver transplant facility. We receive a huge flow of patients with liver disorders,” he said.
Attributing many types of infections—both medical and surgical including hepatitis—a major cause of the liver disorders, Jeeelani said, “Patients who need liver transplant are compelled to go outside the State and everybody cannot afford it”.
A patient with liver disorder needs Rs 30-40 lakh to undergo liver transplant outside the state. And patients have to wait for months for liver transplantation.
Jeelani said if serious patients don’t get their organ transplant for a long time, they would die. “We need to do something apart from surgeries to cure the disease.”
Backing mass awareness, he said until liver transplant facility is available in the Valley, the liver disorder would continue to kill people silently.
“Liver cancer is also very common here. We have to strengthen treatment. We also have to make people aware about liver disorders so that patients are detected at the earliest,” he said.
According to doctors, patients with liver failure and end-stage liver disease are on the rise in Kashmir and the only viable treatment for them is liver transplantation.
The incidence of hepatitis in many parts of south Kashmir has shocked them, they said.
GMC Srinagar spokesperson, Dr M Saleem Khan said for liver transplant facility, they first need to have infrastructure and manpower.
“It is very tough to establish the facility here. Super speciality departments are evolving in the college,” he said.