08 September 2009
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India
The bill, which is scheduled to be introduced in the next session of Parliament, seeks to legalise swapping of vital organs between willing but incompatible donors.
At present, transplants can take place only between blood relatives (father, mother, son, daughter, etc), relatives and those emotionally close to the patient. Swapping will help patients who have relatives willing to donate but are medically incompatible for the recipient. Under this system, when a donor’s organ isn’t compatible with his own relative but is suitable for another, two families, unknown to each other, can exchange the organs.
A health ministry official said, “Many people in India die every month due to unavailability of donated organs or lack of a compatible donor within the family. Swapping will help exchange of organs between two unknown families and also help bring down illegal organ trade.”
However, under the new amendments, punishment against those involved in commercial organ trade is being made harsher and cognizable.
The bill says those involved in the trade, including doctors who help in the racket, will be punishable with imprisonment for two–seven years with a financial penalty of Rs 10,000–Rs 20,000.
The amendments also entitle living organ donors to sops like a 50% discount on second–class rail tickets, lifelong free medical check–up and care in the hospital where organ donation takes place, customised life insurance policy of Rs 2 lakh etc.
The health ministry is also planning a national organ transplant programme from November – this will set up organ retrieval and banking organisations in the big metros to store donated organs.
Massive Organ Failure
- India needs 2.5 lakh eyes donated every year. Manages just 25,000, of which 30% can’t be used.
- 30,000 liver transplants required every year. 400–odd performed.
- 1.5 lakh new patients get endstage renal failure every year. Only 3,500 get kidney transplants
- In the US, there are 25–30 cadaver donors per million population. In India, there are a total of around 50 cadaver donors a year
- 4.5 lakh patients require organ transplants in India annually. Only 35,000 transplants have taken place in the last 10 years.