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Proposal To Expand Definition Of `Near Relatives’ For Organ Donation Welcomed

The George Institute for Global Health has welcomed the proposal of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to expand the donor base by proposing an enabling move that seeks to widen the definition of ‘near relatives’ under the Human Organs and Tissues Transplantation Act, 1994.

The proposal by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare seeks to increase the number of organ transplants as the existing rules are restrictive. Six new categories if relatives are proposed to be included in the Human Organs and Tissues Transplantation Act, 1994 (amended in 2011) to get more donors within the extended family of the patient.

The new relatives can be step father and step mother; step brother, step sister, step son, step daughter and their spouses; spouses of sons and daughters of the recipient; brothers and sisters of recipient’s spouse and their spouses; brothers and sisters of recipient’s parents and their spouses and first cousins of the parents.

The organ transplant program in India is overwhelmingly dependent on altruistic donation by living individuals.

“We hope that this enabling provision will be supported by clear and transparent processes to confirm of such relationships with a high degree of confidence, so that this provision is not used as a loophole to indulge in the reprehensible practice of commercial transplants. The verification should be based on objective genetic tests and not just on documents of questionable countenance. Such processes should be developed in consultation with all stakeholders, viz. the professional societies, legal experts and patient groups,’’ Dr Vivekanand Jha, Executive Director of the Institute has said in a statement.

We also call upon the government to enforce the provisions that already exist in the Act to facilitate ethical deceased organ donation. Deceased donations will not only help kidney transplant recipients but also save the lives of those in need for unpaired organs like liver, lung, heart, pancreas, and intestine. ``We urge that that all intensive care units identify and document brain deaths and ensure that transplant coordinators discuss the possibility of donation with the next of the kin,’’ the statement said.

The George Institute for Global Health is improving the lives of millions of people worldwide through innovative health research. The Institute conducts clinical, population and health system research aimed at changing health practice and policy worldwide. The Institute has been ranked among the top 10 global institutes for impact for the last several years. 

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