TEZPUR, March 21 � �A team of dedicated doctors and infrastructure development is a must in the field of health service for providing successful health care service to the people. This is yet to be achieved in States like Assam,� said noted physician, transplant surgeon, pride of Assam and Padma Shri Award winner Dr Sarbeswar Sahariah here at the IMA House on Saturday evening. Dr Sahariah who came here for a felicitation programme organised by the Assam chapter of the Indian Medical Association said that along with other dreaded diseases, kidney damage problem has been a cause of major concern across the country. �Diabetes is the major cause behind kidney damage,� he said and added that in a worrying fallout of the rising cases of diabetes and hypertension in urban India, a study across 12 cities found 17 out of every 100 people suffering from kidney disease. Of this, 6% had stage III kidney disease which necessitates medical attention and, in some cases, costly treatment like dialysis or transplant. The study used data from 13 hospitals, both private and government, across 12 cities � making it the largest screening study of kidney disease in the country.
For him the most surprising fact was that a majority of individuals diagnosed with different stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD) had not undergone any kidney function test before. Dr Sahariah who is currently serving at the Krisnai Institute of Medical Science, Hyderabad, later interacting with the media also stated that in India, younger people do not go for preventive check-ups. This results in delayed diagnosis. As per a study, 64.5% of the patients suffering from CKD also suffered from hypertension, 4.7% from anaemia and 31.6% from diabetes. Patients suffering from CKD visit hospitals when their kidney functioning had already been reduced to half of its capacity. �If the disease can be diagnosed early, in stage I and II, its progression can be halted with medicines. Those with a family history of kidney failure, recurrent urinary tract infection, diabetes and hypertension must get themselves tested periodically,� he added.
However, in case of the medical facilities of Assam, the renowned physician said that the government has to be interested in producing more doctors. �But with the present six medical colleges, that is not possible, as in comparison to other States it is still very few,� he said adding that the south Indian doctors are crazy and very aggressive in acquiring knowledge on new things of the medical world and they are very much dedicated because of which they can attract people of other parts of the country.
�Doctors also stress on the need for promoting cadaver donation. 1,75,000 kidneys are needed for transplantation in India every year. At present, just about 4,000 transplants are conducted annually. More than 90% of the donors are family members. The poor may prefer to �sell� their kidneys to others to earn money to take care of their families. Many of the family donors may be doing so to save their income-earner. If promoting cadaver donation does not yield the desired results, the Health Ministry may consider working with Parliament to introduce a law whereby citizens �opt-out� of donating organs rather than �opt-in�. Hence, all who die in accidents will have their kidneys removed, unless they have expressed their wish to not donate. The Health Ministry in each State keeps a register of those who �opt-out� and family members will verify this at the time of death,� he said. In the programme, he also presented a lively presentation on transplantation of kidney.
It needs mention that Dr Sarbeswar Sahariah who was born on April 1, 1945 at Mangaldai had to pursue his education in medical science amid tough economic conditions. As a successful physician he was associated with the first successful renal transplantation at PGI, Chandigarh in 1973. Since then Dr Sahariah has completely devoted his medical career for the development of renal transplantation programme in the country and popularisation of cadaver organ donation. While Dr Sahariah was working as a faculty member at the Post Graduate Medical Institute Chandigarh, he was offered the post of head of Organ Transplantation Centre at the Osmania University, Hyderabad which he joined in 1981. Immediately after joining, Dr Sahariah performed the first successful renal transplant operation in Andhra Pradesh in May, 1981 and since then has performed more than 3000 such operations which is probably the highest number performed by a single surgeon in the country. Dr Sahariah subsequently resigned from the government job and started practising at various hospitals in the city. He has the distinction of initiating the Renal Transplant Programme in almost every centre in Andhra Pradesh including the prestigious Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences and Gandhi Hospital & Medical College. He has single-handedly developed organ transplantation in Andhra Pradesh in the last 30 years. He has initiated the Renal Transplant programme in various institutions across the State including Bollineni Hospital, Nellore, CDR Hospital, Visakhapatnam, Pinnamalani Polyclinic, Vijaywada, Seven Hills Hospital, Visakhapatnam (all in Andhra Pradesh), St Johns Medical College, Bangalore, MS Ramaiah Medical College, Bangalore, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, Down Town Hospital, Guwahati, Damani Hospital, Dibrugarh, Gauhati Medical College Hospital, JN Medical College Hospital, Maharashtra, Suretech Hospital, Nagpur, Orange City Hospital, Nagpur, Hi-tech Medical College Hospital, Bhubaneswar, Kalinga Hospital, Bhubaneswar, and International Hospital. Most of the patients with terminal kidney failure from the northeastern states of India including Assam underwent renal transplantation under Dr Sahariah with successful outcomes. The operations are conducted at a much concessional rate at Mahavir Hospital and Research Centre, Hyderabad which is a charitable hospital. This has resulted in extending the benefit of organ transplantation to the patients from the weaker sections of the society from the region.
Dr Sahariah who is the chief advisor of the All Assam Kidney Transplant Forum is also the life member of various medical bodies. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2013. The felicitation programme held under the aegis of the IMA State president, Manabendra Goswami was attended by the State secretary (honorary) IMA, Dr Satyajit Bora, Tezpur branch president and secretary IMA respectively Dr Hiranya Bora and Dr Atul Kalita, and all physicians of Tezpur. In the programme, a book My Journey with Kidney Transplantation (1974-2014) by Dr Sarbeswar Saharia was also released.