ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Reducing Bureaucracy, Saving Lives

Organ transplantation rules need to be simple and not susceptible to confusing interpretations

India needs nearly 2,00,000 kidney transplants and 1,00,000 liver transplants every year but only about 3% of these numbers are available. Inevitably, the organ sale or trade rackets thrive in India as is evident from the regular exposes in the media. This illegal trade can be halted if organ donations from living relatives and deceased organ donation or cadaver donation from brain-dead persons were encouraged and facilitated. Yet, the recently posted Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules, 2013 on the Union Ministry of Health website to elicit suggestions might fall short of doing this. For one, the draft rules are submerged in unnecessary detail and bureaucratic hurdles. And in any case, is there adequate infrastructure as well as enough skilled medical professionals to meet the demand?

In 1994, the Transplantation of Human Organs (THO) Act was passed and came into effect the following year. It was supposed to help in meeting the demand for kidneys, liver and other organs and curb commercial organ trade by accepting the concept of brain death. However, it failed on both counts. It did precious little to decrease the illegal organ sale and at the same time it created unnecessary delays and hurdles in cases of genuine donation. It is important to note here that while the THO Act prohibits the purchase/sale of organs, it allows an unrelated donor to give organs “by reason of affection or attachment towards the recipient”. This has proved to be a bonanza for racketeers whereby authorisation committees have accepted this proviso even when the organ has been paid for and is not a donation.

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