saving lives

How Tamil Nadu taught Rajasthan and Kerala to encourage organ transplants

Thanks to the state government's excellent work, people in Tamil Nadu are aware of the importance of organ donation. And now others are learning too.

June 16 was a routine Tuesday for the youngsters manning 104, the medical advice helpline set up by the Tamil Nadu government. At 11.30 am, a call came in from Paramakudi in the south-eastern Ramanathapuram district. On the line was N Gnanasekaran, seeking immediate assistance. His sister, 65-year-old K Premavathy, had died of natural causes about 15 minutes before the call and Gnanasekaran wanted to donate her eyes.

The 104 personnel quickly contacted the Paramakudi chapter of the Lions Club, which sent across a team to Gnanam’s house. “In the meantime, we gave some simple dos and don’ts to the family,” said B Prabhudoss, head of marketing and hospital relations at GVK-EMRI, which runs the 104 service for the government. “We asked them to switch off the fan, keep the head elevated and to place a moist cotton ball on the eyes of the deceased to prevent dehydration.”

Enucleation, or removal of the eye, was completed successfully by noon, a half-hour after the call to 104, and someone in Tamil Nadu got the gift of eyesight.

Even as the 104 team was cheering, a call came in at 7.30 pm the same day. G Senthil Kumar, a resident of Bodinayakanur in Theni district, wanted to donate the eyes of his 80-year-old uncle, D Muthaiah, who had passed away 15 minutes before. The team contacted the closest eye bank, Aravind Eye Bank, and enucleation was carried out at the caller’s residence by 10.30 pm.

“I am glad we were able to donate his eyes and give sight to someone else,” said Kumar.

Miles ahead of others

The 104 helpline, launched in December 2013, has a staff of 40, including doctors, paramedics and psychologists. It is connected to all hospitals in the state through a Closed User Group and receives on average 2,000-2,500 calls a day. Still, it wants to do more by aggressively promoting awareness on eye donation and informing the public that it is a one-stop shop for access to eye banks.

Its success is reflective of Tamil Nadu's success in creating an excellent organ transplant programme that has become a model for the rest of the country. Every week increasingly more patients come from far and wide to Chennai for transplants. And routinely the government's work is visible on the street as the administration comes together in emergencies to create green corridors for transportation of a heart or a liver from another city for transplant.

This path perhaps was paved by organ transplant pioneer Dr KM Cherian. “In 1994, we were the ones who initiated and pushed the Centre to pass the Transplantation of Human Organs Act,” said Dr Cherian. “On the government’s request I conducted a public meeting at Vijaya Hospital in Chennai to garner public support from people from all walks of life. It is only after that the law was passed legalising brain death. This law is key to allowing organ transplants.”

By 2013, Tamil Nadu had a deceased organ donation of 1.8 per million population. In the rest of India, the figure was 0.26 per million population.

Government's industrious work

In 2009, Dr Cherian carried out the first inter-state transplant on two-year-old Yadharth from Noida, the youngest child to undergo such a procedure. For this, the heart of three-year-old Tamannah was harvested in Bengaluru and flown to Chennai in 2 hours and 52 minutes.

Five years later, in September, the heart of a 32-year-old brain dead woman in Bengaluru’s BGS Hospital was flown to Chennai on an Air India flight. Green corridors were created by the traffic police in both cities and the heart made its way to Chennai’s Fortis Malar Hospital, where 21 hours after the donor died her heart began to beat inside a 40-year-old man.

In 2014 alone, the Chennai police created 25 green corridors to help transport organs to hospitals within the city. There are three reasons why Chennai is so good with transplants, says Cherian.

“The first is awareness – the Tamil Nadu public is very aware about organ donation,” he said. “The second is that the state has an excellent Organ Sharing Registry, which is transparent and foolproof. Patients in need of organs are waitlisted and receive organs in order of the waitlist. There is no question of jumping the queue illegally.”

The third reason, Cherian says, is the government’s industrious work – “the police helps immediately in transporting organs, the state government itself has made the process of post-mortem and handing over of the body very quick and smooth so that grieving relatives are not made to wait while organs are harvested. So the government, police, the people and doctors have come together to create an excellent ecosystem”.

Role model for states

The system works so well that even former Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh was flown to Chennai for a liver transplant after attempts to treat him for liver cirrhosis at Mumbai’s Breach Candy Hospital failed. Within days, a donor was found, but before the transplant could take place, Deshmukh succumbed to multiple organ failure.

“Since the 1990s the government and doctors have worked towards bringing about awareness on this subject,” said Dr Sunil Shroff, founder of Mohan Foundation, a non-profit organisation that promotes organ donation. “Since then we have done a lot of public education. The government has conducted awareness campaigns, so the Tamil Nadu public is generally aware about it. In fact, 15% to 20% of organs are donated voluntarily by the families of brain dead patients.”

After the Tamil Nadu Cadaver Transplant Programme was set up in September 2008 by the state government, the Organ Sharing Registry came into existence. The idea was to put patients requiring organs on a waitlist so that as and when organs with matching blood type became available, the system would throw up a matching recipient.

Kerala and Rajasthan too are working towards replicating the Tamil Nadu model. “We have set up a registry in Kerala similar to Tamil Nadu’s,” said Dr Sunil Shroff of Mohan Foundation. “Now we have been approached by Rajasthan too. Things are more complicated in Rajasthan, but the government there is keen to make it work. The success of the scheme in Tamil Nadu is such that now there is a reverse flow of organs from private hospitals to government hospitals. That is a welcome sign.”

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.


The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the marketing team and not by the editorial staff.