05 Sept 2012
Govt May Make It Mandatory To Declare Intention To Donate Body Parts
Applying for a new driving licence? You might have to declare whether you want to donate any of your organs or tissues in case of a fatality.
With 17 lives lost in road accidents every hour last year, and 390 fatalities recorded daily, the Union health ministry says organs donated from such victims with proper consent of their family members can help the country’s abysmally low organ donation rate.
The new draft of the Transplantation of Human Organ Rules, 2012, discussed by the Union health ministry in consultation with experts on August 30, however, says there would be no compulsion for the applicant to say "yes" to donation but it should become mandatory for people to declare their intentions.
The draft available with TOI suggests that a donor in the presence of two or more witnesses – at least one of whom to be a next of kin – will have to "unequivocally authorize before his death in documents like driving license wherein the provision for donation is incorporated after notification of this Act the removal of his organs/ tissues including eye after his death for therapeutic purposes and there is no reason to believe that the donor had subsequently revoked the authorization".
The health ministry officials said a letter was written to the surface transport department almost a year ago, suggesting that all new applicants have to mandatorily declare whether they want to donate their organs in the application form.
The department wasn’t too keen as it would entail the long process of changing the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
Joint secretary in the ministry of transport Nitin Gokarn told TOI, "We are examining the proposal. The idea has not been shelved. It can’t be done in a hurry as it would entail coming out a draft notification and then changing the Act."
Joint secretary in the health ministry Arun Panda said, "The parliamentary standing committee had recommended that the driving licence should containing information on whether the licence-holder wants to donate h/his organs. We are pushing for it."
Dr Anil Kumar, expert on organ donation in the director general of health services who was present in the August 30 meeting, said, "If included in the licence, we will know the wish of the holder regarding organ donation. However the organs can’t be harvested without the consent of the relative. A transplant coordinator in a hospital can then help the relatives with the donation."
Leading transplant surgeons say more than 90% of brain death in India is caused due to road accidents and most victims are likely to carry their licences.
At present, organ donation cards in most states are issued by independent hospitals or NGOs. The registrations are poor and in many cases, donations don’t happen. Transplant surgeons are hoping that new proposal, will create awareness, spur up family discussions and increase donor pools.