The government on Friday introduced in the Lok Sabha the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Bill, 2009. It seeks to allow swapping of organs and including grandparents and grandchildren in the list of donors.

The Bill, tabled by Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, also provides for the establishment of a National Human Organs and Tissues Removal and Storage Network, and the development and maintenance of a national registry of the recipients of organ transplants.

Enhanced punishment

Importantly, the Bill recommends enhancing the punishment for commercial dealing in human organs and contravention of any provisions of the new law.

The Bill will amend the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, with the purpose of regulating the removal, storage and transplantation of human organs for therapeutic purposes, and preventing commercial dealing in human organs, something the existing law had failed to do.

The amended law will enable a surgeon or a physician and an anaesthetist to be included in the medical board in the event of non-availability of a neurosurgeon or a neurologist to certify brain death; make it mandatory for the ICU/Treating Medical Staff to request the relatives of brain-dead patients for organ donation; and empower the Union government to prescribe the composition of authorisation committees for granting approvals for donating organs.

Besides regulating the transplantation of organs for foreign nationals, the Bill also seeks appointing a “transplant coordinator” in all hospitals registered for organ retrieval and transplantation, and providing for the registration of non-governmental organisations working in organ retrieval, banking and transplant.

The Bill also vests in appropriate authorities the power to summon persons, seek production of documents, and issue search warrants.