In a major tweak to the organ donation policy, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday said that the clause that people beyond 65 years could not receive cadaver organ transplants had been removed.
“The government has decided to do away with the ceiling. Now, people beyond 65 years in need of an organ donation will also be eligible to get one,” official sources in the Health Ministry said.
The government has decided to do away with a clause in the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO) guidelines as the clause violates the Right to Life, sources added. “Now an individual of any age can register for organ transplant,” they said.
Also, earlier an organ recipient could register for a prospective transplant in domicile State. States like Gujarat had made it mandatory for registered patients to furnish a domicile certificate to be eligible for a transplant. In November last year, the Gujarat High Court quashed the discriminatory policy of the State government.
“In line with the judgment, the Indian government has decided to do away with the domicile policy and all States have been intimated about this decision. A patient irrespective of domicile State can register in any other State for a transplant. The patient will be allotted a unique ID by NOTTO on registering which will get carried forward even if the patient changes multiple hospitals in different States,” the sources said.
Apart from this, certain States like Kerala and Maharashtra have been charging fees ranging from ₹5,000 to ₹10,000 for registering organ transplant patients. “The Health Ministry has intimated States to stop charging registration fees from patients,” said the sources.
The Health Ministry is charting a ‘One Nation One Policy,’ for organ donation and transplantation. “We are introducing a chapter in school curriculum regarding organ donation awareness for students,” said the sources.
According to data accessed from the Health Ministry, the number of organ transplants have increased by over three times from 4,990 in 2013 to 15,561 in 2022.
Of the 15,561 transplants, a majority — 12,791 (82%) — are from live donors and 2,765 (18%) are from cadavers.
Up to 11,423 of the 15,561 organ transplants are for the kidney, followed by liver (766), heart (250), lung (138), pancreas (24) and small bowel transplants (3).
“Most of these transplants occur in private hospitals, the numbers in government hospitals are relatively lower,” the sources said.