Kidney racket: biometric data may be explored to prove donor’s identity

August 16, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 08:30 am IST - MUMBAI:

Following the arrest of five doctors in the kidney racket in Mumbai and doctors’ demand that they be not held responsible for verifying documents, the Union Health Ministry’s National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO) will now explore if biometric data of the Aadhar cardholder can be procured to establish the donor’s identity.

In the kidney racket busted at L H Hiranandani Hospital last month, the donor and the recipient had submitted forged documents, including forged Aadhar cards and marriage certificate. Medical practitioners agitating against the arrest last week have contended that it is not their job to check the veracity of documents. “We believe that Aadhar is a good document to verify a person’s identity. Though a lot of people still do not have the card, there are many who have it. We will take the help of the National Informatics Centre to see if a biometric-based system can be developed to verify the donor’s identity,” Dr. Anil Kumar, nodal officer, NOTTO, told The Hindu on Monday. The system would throw up the biometric data once the Aadhar number of a person is fed into it. With the biometrics, the identity of a person will be established.

Dr. Kumar pointed out that a DNA test can be used only to verify genetic association: if the donor has claimed to be a parent or a sibling; it cannot be used in cases where a donor is a spouse. In the Hiranandani case, the donor was made to pose as the recipient’s spouse.

As per the law, the duration of the marriage, marriage certificate and proofs of marriage should be checked by the authorisation committee. Dr. Kumar said doctors are protesting because they have limited time and overall responsibility of document verification is of a separate body. “But while the doctor’s key role is treatment, they have a duty to check approvals in place before removing an organ and have basic awareness of the law.” Doctors in Mumbai have been protesting the arrests and have threatened to stop taking up transplant procedures. They held a meeting with the Chief Minister on Saturday. “Most doctors have started taking up operations now. There are only a few who are not taking up cases and we are trying to convince them,” said Dr. Pravin Shingare, Director, Directorate of Medical Education and Research.

However, doctors said they were only taking up cases that were already lined up and are awaiting the government to revert to them in the one-week time it had sought. “Both the nephrology and urology associations have said they will not interfere with the ongoing cases, but fresh applications will be taken up after a new system is devised. The government has sought a week’s time. It was never the intent of the doctors to stop transplants,” said Dr. Sudhir Naik, president of the Association of Medical Consultants.

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