Nagpur: In 2009, Dr Ravi Wankhede, a well-known activist in the field of organ donation and former general secretary of Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre (ZTCC) in Nagpur, had donated one of his kidneys to his friend Dr SalimChimthanwala. This altruistic kidney donation had won accolades for him then as Dr Wankhede had saved a life. In 2020, no company was ready to give him health insurance cover for not having two kidneys. Finally, he wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi a month ago, and on September 24, the same insurance company, which had earlier denied him cover, called him and offered policy. “I got two calls from the company that it has received a communication from the PMO. The company said it would insure me if my kidney function test (KFT) reports are good. For me, it’s a big success for organ donors in the country,” said Dr Wankhede. When Dr Wankhede turned 65 two years ago, the insurance company told him that his policy could not be renewed as it does not offer cover to people above 65. Dr Wankhede approached another private company, which specifically offers health insurance for elderly people. To his dismay, this company also rejected his request. “I had disclosed in my application that I was a kidney donor, which worked against me,” said Dr Wankhede. After three companies denied him insurance cover, Dr Wankhede lodged a complaint with Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA). “As nothing happened even after repeated follow-up, I finally wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with all details,” he said. Within a month, he got a call from the company. After facing rejections from multiple companies, Dr Wankhede, who has been working for the cause of organ donation throughout his life, feared that people may be discouraged from donating organs, if they find out that insurance companies are not going to provide them with health coverage after donating organs. “Insurance cover for me was not a big deal, but all live donors must be given this protection was the issue. As per IRDA rules, no company can deny insurance to live donors and there has been no exception to this,” said Dr Wankhede. A senior official from National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization told TOI that number of live donors for kidney and liver is increasing and they must get health insurance cover. “Companies have to understand that an organ donor is a healthy individual and there is no literature to suggest that organ donors are at higher risk of any medical complication as a result of donating the organ. They must get insurance cover,” he said.
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