“Hey, you there, listen. If you don’t have a good moral character, I don’t want your kidney!”
That might sound like loutish dialogue out of some dreadful teleserial, but that is exactly what the draft recommendations for the Transplantation of Human Organs Act say too. For the team that drew up the draft, obviously the moral character of an organ donor matters above every thing else.
As per Form- 14b, the Health Department or the State level committee/State Authorisation Committee should grant a No Objection Certificate, that “to the best of knowledge of the members of the committee, the donor and/or recipient have good moral character and their legal status is verified to be satisfactory.”
It also seems to stress on the moral character of the recipient, while medical concerns should be the only reason to authorise a transplantation for a failed organ. Also, it remains to be seen, if the draft goes through, how the committee will go about verifying the character of the donor.
The draft also requires makes it mandatory upon the Authorisation Committee to ensure psychiatrist clearance to certify that the proposed donor has no overt or latent psychiatric disease that might impinge on his ability to give free consent.
A second attempt at proving sanity of donor, as the draft has already specified that the Registered Medical Practitioner must ensure that “psychiatric evaluation of the donor has been done to certify that the donor is not mentally challenged.” As long as the RMP certifies sanity, there should be no need to do a psychiatrist evaluation routinely, doctors involved in organ transplant say.
On the other end of the spectrum, however, the draft has charged the Authorisation Committee with gathering documentary evidence of the link, e.g. proof that they (donor and recipient) have “lived together”. While taking the high moral ground on other issues, this ambiguous phraseology of the draft, ‘living together’ could also mean a conjugal relationship outside the confines of marriage, has raised several eyebrows. Organ transplant activists have recommended for years now, that it should be sufficient for the owner and recipient to prove they have known each other, and that there is no pecuniary interest in the donation.
Again, the requirement of the draft that hospitals having ICUs should add the following line in the admission form: “Whether the person has pledged anytime to donate any of his organ/tissue/both including eye after his death for therapeutic purpose.”
Hospital administrators point out that it scarcely makes sense to ask people seeking admission in the ICU to answer this question.
“The question does not arise except in the event of brain death. Asking these questions at the time of admission is unnecessary and is likely to cause the patient and his relatives some amount of distress,” says the doctor in charge of ICU management in a city hospital.