The Indian government seems to be hoping with some changes to the Transplantation of Human Organs Act 1994 (THO Act) the obnoxious trade in kidney and exploitation of the poor could be reined in.
Dr. Harsh Jauhari, a member of the Review Committee of the Ministry of Health and constituted by the Delhi High Court to review the provisions of the THO Act, said Friday that the changes were being finalized.
The proposed amendments would mean a determined attempt to promote the cadaver organ donation programme even while making it difficult to trade in organs, mainly kidneys, Jauhari told the 23rd annual conference of the Indian Society of Organ Transplantation at the southern Indian city of Bangalore. He was speaking at a forum on the ethics of organ transplantation at the conference.
Dr. Jauhari said strengthening the Organ Retrieval and Banking Organisation (ORBO), creating at least six more ORBO centres and actively promoting the cadaver organ donation programme would be the main thrust of the proposed changes to the THO Act.
Also hospitals with ICUs would be certified as organ retrieval centres, and appointment of transplant coordinators at all transplant centres would be made mandatory.
Post-mortem which was now conducted only during the day would be facilitated to be performed round-the-clock, so that organ harvesting could be speeded up.
On their part the hospitals concerned could ensure necessary mechanism was in place for brain-death certification and also provide for grief-counselling in order to take the cadaver donation programme forward, Jauhari added.
Sudarshan Ballal, Director, Manipal Institute of Nephrology and Urology, said cadaver organ transplants accounted for less than 0.5 per cent of all kidney transplantations in India. "Kidney transplantation is mired in ugly controversies and inconsistent regulations by the government," he said.
Gabriel M. Danovitch, Medical Director, Kidney Transplant Programme, UCLA Medical Centre, Los Angeles, California, spoke against paid live organ donation, saying it was not only illegal, but recognised by all stakeholders as being inimical to the cause of cadaver transplant programme.
He claimed the cadaver transplant programme in his country was successful and attributed it to an efficient dialysis care delivery system.
Besides the government was investing generously in the programme, in terms of money and social inputs.