Home > Women & Feminism > The biased state of kidney donation

The biased state of kidney donation

October 7th, 2009

So, Karva Chauth has come and gone. While I don’t believe in a festival that lays emphasis on only one half of a married couple fasting for the other half, it doesn’t affect me in the slightest since neither my community nor my husband’s celebrates this festival. However, I came across an article on a woman who gave her husband the gift of a kidney, on Karva Chauth.

It is of course admirable when spouses support each other in this way, through sickness and health. But, some startling statistics for you. Of every 100 kidney donations in India:

  • In 64 cases, the recipient is male and the donor female
  • In 8 cases, the recipient is female and the donor male
  • In 20 cases, both recipient and donor are male
  • In 8 cases,┬áboth recipient and donor are female

Put another way, 84 out of 100 kidney recipients are male and only 16 female, while 72 out of 100 donors are female and only 28 male.

I could not find any hard data on whether kidney failure per se affects men in a much higher ratio than women, but from what I read on sites such as Dialysis India, it appears not, or at least not with such great disparity. In fact, women are at very high risk of urinary infections which can affect the bladder and kidneys. Globally, it also appears that Chronic Kidney Disease is more likely to be overlooked among women, although the rate of documentation rises for patients already diagnosed with hypertension. This means, the few women who are receiving transplants are likely to be a very small proportion of actual sufferers, especially in India where rural areas receive little advanced healthcare.

Kidney donation in India is a complex subject, and in general, there is a severe shortage of donors as well as a black market in organs. In this scenario, it is evident that men who will be valued in the family as ‘earning members’ can get a kidney much more easily. Women, on the other hand, mostly do not have any such ‘economic value.’ Further, few husbands may donate due to fears that the loss of a kidney may prevent them from doing heavy work. In reality, some of these husbands may have desk jobs, and quite a few poorer women who donate kidneys will do heavy work including getting water from a distance, collecting firewood, caring for large families including elderly people or farm work. That is not of course considered work or valuable in any way.

    Related Posts You May Like
  1. Women and “our” housework
  2. The Great Adjustment Story
  3. Only the virtuous can cover up

apu Women & Feminism

  1. October 8th, 2009 at 01:46 | #1

    Very thought provoking article.

  2. October 8th, 2009 at 02:07 | #2

    I had read about this somewhere…It’s sad; things won’t change unless the mindset does…

  3. October 8th, 2009 at 05:54 | #3

    I feel this and sex selections are just some of the visible symptoms of the all that’s so wrong in our society.

  4. October 8th, 2009 at 06:24 | #4

    Frnkaly,I had never looked at these stastics before.
    It is a sorry state of affairs.

  5. October 9th, 2009 at 03:55 | #5

    Thanks all for your comments. I’m glad if I was able to bring it to a few peoples’ notice…

  6. October 9th, 2009 at 06:24 | #6

    Apu, it would be interesting to know if this is the scene across cultures or specifically India. Looks like women ‘understand’ and ‘adjust’ and ’sacrifice’ quite naturally in this case as well.

  7. October 9th, 2009 at 12:04 | #7

    This is so shocking! And your analysis is apt..

  8. October 10th, 2009 at 02:00 | #8

    Medical ’sacrifices’ if any, has somehow always landed up at the women’s space.Even the Family Planning operation, would be temporary and faster if done on men, but most couples, prefer that the woman do it.Well, its not surprising, as in most Indian families, where money would determine the priority given to health, the woman’s health would rank last in the list..

  9. October 10th, 2009 at 03:17 | #9

    Uma - while I was reading up for this piece, I came across mentions that in other countries too, donations by women are more - I couldn’t find the actual figures, but I did not come across anything this skewed in Western countries. Also, under-reporting and missed diagnosis of kidney diseases seem to be more common with female patients.

    Smitha - yes, the numbers are shocking indeed.

    BD - that is so true. Somehow family planning is always the women’s responsibility…

  10. October 24th, 2009 at 04:52 | #10

    Another wonderful thought provoking write up. Indian women are also responsible for the situation. They consider themselves as an unimportant part of the family, consider their sons more important and generally enjoy being the martyr. One may argue that society has fine tuned them to think so. May be, but when are they going to stand up for themselves?

  11. October 24th, 2009 at 11:26 | #11

    Padma-ji - than you. Yes, many women are “conditioned” to sacrifice - in fact, this woman I spoke about, was shown on TV - and she emphasized heavily her “duty” as a wife in doing such a thing…but yes, perhaps more educated people at least need to stand up for themselves..

  1. No trackbacks yet.