Mulling over considering non-immediate kin as near relatives.
Mumbai: The Union health ministry will ease norms for organ donation, as per a circular sent to the Maharashtra government, which was accessed by The Asian Age. The ministry of health and family welfare is considering the inclusion of step-parents, step-siblings and extended family members in the definition of ‘near relatives’ in the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994 via an amendment to discourage organ trading while ensuring that patients find suitable donors.
The ministry, which issued the circular on August 21, had earlier amended the Act in 2011 and included grandfather, grandmother, grandson or granddaughter in the definition of ‘near relatives’. The near relatives who could legally donate organs were initially defined as spouses, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters.
With the latest circular, the Centre plans to expand the term further to increase the availability of living donors in India.
The ministry has been receiving several references/petitions regarding the amendment of the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994 (as amended in 2011), as per the circular. “Therefore, it asked for public opinion and comments with regard to the amendment in the said Act before the process of amendment is initiated in this ministry,” it read. The circular said that opinion and comments could be sent via email to email@example.com by September 25. Comments received after this period will not be taken into consideration.
The circular read, “In light of the same, the Government of India is considering to expand the definition of near relative and amend the section 2(i) by including the following: (1) stepfather, stepmother; stepbrother, stepsister, stepson, stepdaughter and their spouses; spouses of sons and daughters of recipient; brothers and sisters of recipient's spouse and their spouses; brothers and sisters of recipient's parents and their spouses; first cousins [having common grandparent(s)] of the recipient and their spouses.”
Lauding the move, zonal transplant coordination committee president Dr Gustad Daver said, “I hope the government’s implementation in proper. There should be transparency, and strictness is already present in scrutiny for papers so I do not think there can be any misuse.”
He added, “Apart from requests for organs, there are various cases of non-availability of ‘near relative’ donors or blood group mismatches with relatives. After the amendment donor will have options.”
The waiting list
ZTCC data revealed that the more than 8,000 people have registered for kidney transplant in the city over the last 20 years but merely 558 (7%) individuals got the needed organs for the transplant surgery. Of the 1,829 people registering for a liver in the last 14 years, only 199 (11%) received the organs. Out of the 89 patients who registered for a heart, about 34 (44%) have received heart.