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Times of India
18 March 2011
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India

Move Will Curb Rising Illegal Organ Trade
Organ Transplant Bill Gets Govt Nod
India is now a step closer to making swapping of vital organs between willing but incompatible donors, legal. In a major push to clamp down on the country’s illegal organ trade, the Cabinet on Thursday cleared the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act according to which punishment for removal of human organ without authority will entail a jail term of 10 years and a Rs 5 lakh fine.

Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was very keen to introduce the bill in the Budget session of Parliament. The bill says that hospitals should have a coordinator in the ICU (who may be a doctor or a senior nursing staff member) independent of the transplant team, to liaison between the treating physician and the potential brain–death donor and the organ retrieval bank. At present, in India, not many people donate their organs because of which it is important hospitals get into the act of convincing relatives of brain dead patients to donate organs.

Once a patient is declared brain dead, almost 37 different organs and tissues can be harvested, including heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and lungs. Under the new amendments, the most significant change will be the allowing of swapping of vital organs. At present, rules restrict organ transplant to between blood relatives (father, mother, son, daughter, wife, husband, sister and brother), relatives and those having love and affection towards the patient.

Swapping will help patients, who have relatives willing to donate but are medically incompatible for the recipient. So when a donor’s organ isn’t compatible with his relative but is suitable for the other, the two families, unknown to each other, can exchange the organs.

The bill says hospitals should have a coordinator in the ICU, independent of the transplant team, to liaison between the physician and potential brain–death donor and the organ retrieval bank

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