The biased state of kidney donation
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, both 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.
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