Committee favours cadaver-based transplantation, organ banks

Ramya Kannan

It also wants donors to be given social incentives

CHENNAI: The central committee appointed to review the Transplantation of Human Organs Act has made out a strong case for cadaver-based transplantation, setting up organ data banks and providing social incentives to donors.

The committee, led by the Union Health Secretary, was set up to review the provisions of the Act and its rules for implementation as per a Delhi High Court judgement of September 2004. It submitted its recommendations in May 2005. In its final document, up for review on the Internet (http://mohfw.nic.in/thoa.htm), the Transplantation of Human Organs Authorisation Committee has been vested with the task of ensuring that there is no commercial transaction between the donor and the recipient, in case the two are not `near relatives'; and there is no middleman involved. It has also recommended that the financial statements of both the donor and the recipient for three years be provided. "Any gross disparity between the status of the two must be evaluated in the backdrop of the objective of preventing commercial dealing." This assumes significance in the light of the unearthing of a kidney racket in Chennai recently.

Regional centres

Taking note of the fact that an organ retrieval and banking organisation had been set up at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences to facilitate the transplant programme in the country, the committee has recommended that five regional centres be created to cover the country's northern, eastern, western, southern and central regions. These units might in turn have one unit in each State. Patients can register paying a reasonable fee.

A national organ tranplant programme should be launched to promote cadaver donations. It should develop a focussed IEC campaign to create awareness of organ and cadaver donations.

The committee calls on hospitals to make it mandatory for ICU medical staff to broach the topic of organ donation with the kin of brain dead patients and maintain a record. The draft recommends that schemes be put in place to take care of donors and the kin of brain dead, suggesting incentives they can be given. While an appreciation certificate will be appropriate, preferential status in organ transplant should be given to the next of kin of a brain dead donor should they require it in future. Life-long cost incentives, such as discounts and partially free treatment for specific ailments, have also been recommended. A comprehensive health care scheme has been suggested for live donors, in addition to life-long free renal and liver check up and follow-up care in the hospital where the organ donation took place. A customised life insurance policy, with the organ recipient paying a one-time premium, is also on the list of recommendations.