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A scientific symposium on ‘Current Concepts in Organ Donation and Transplantation’ was organised by Command Hospital, Pune under the aegis of Director General Medical Services (Army) and Headquarters Southern Command.

The highlights of this unique outreach programme included educational lectures and scientific presentations by army specialists in the field of Organ Transplantation. This was followed by an interactive panel discussion where various medical, legal, ethical and scientific issues were discussed. The speakers dwelt  upon the modalities and facilities for kidney, liver, cornea (eye), bone marrow and stem cell transplantation; and their successful results in the armed forces. The audience composed of serving personnel and veterans of the Armed Forces, including their families and school children.

In his inaugural address, Lt General Raymond Noronha, Chief of Staff, Southern Command motivated the large audience to pledge their organs to save the lives of needy patients with end stage organ disease.

Lt General Velu Nair, Director General Medical Services (Army) & Colonel Commandant, Army Medical Corps; a doyen in the field of transplation of international repute, delivered an inspirational concluding address emphasising the national need to promote organ donation. He underscored the need to energise organ transplantation and put in place a system to ensure its sucess. The armed forces have been recognised as an organisation at par with the states, for the purpose of authorising harvesting, transportation and transplantation of human organs. He also showcased the success of organ transplantation programme in the armed forces, and complimented the endeavours made by Command Hospital Pune, in this direction.

Various strategies to facilitate organ retrieval were discussed. Organ transplantation is based on identification of suitable donors, from whom organs can be harvested, once they are declared brain dead. Certification of brain death is done by a Board of Doctors. Once brain death has been certified, transplant teams are notified and arrangements are made for retrieval of organs, transportation and finally transplantation into the body of a recipient.

At the end of the function, an ‘Organ Donation Pledge’ was taken to motivate those who wish to donate their organs, to save precious lives of the terminally ill and diseased patients.