Kidney Transplants in India

Kidney Transplants in India

News: Organ donations and transplants in exchange for money are forbidden in India in order to protect poor and vulnerable donors from potential exploitation.

Background:
• The government has ordered a probe into the findings of an investigation by The Telegraph published earlier this month, alleging that poor Myanmarese villagers were being lured into giving their kidneys to rich patients from that country, with the involvement of Delhi’s Apollo hospital.

What are Indian laws on organ transplants and donations?
Organ donation and transplantation in India are regulated by the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994 (THAO).

Key provisions:
• The act allows both deceased and living donors to donate their organs.
• It regulates the removal, storage, and transplantation of human organs and tissues for therapeutic purposes.
• The act prohibits the commercialization of organ donation.
• Organ donation must be voluntary and without any monetary benefit to the donor
• The act also establishes a regulatory framework for the authorization of hospitals and transplant centers to carry out organ transplantation.
• Authorization committees at the state and national levels oversee the process of organ donation and transplantation.
• The act identifies brain death as a form of death.

Apollo Hospital's Defense and the Authorization Process
• Apollo Hospital, under scrutiny, contends that all transplants were conducted with proper authorization from the committee and certification from the Myanmar embassy, verifying the donors as relatives.
• The authorization process involves thorough documentation, family tree verification, and interviews to establish the authenticity of the donor-recipient relationship.

The Challenge of 'Kidney Scams' and Forged Documents
• Allegations of 'kidney scams' have surfaced previously, often relying on forged documents to establish relationships between donors and recipients.
• India's transplant law is designed to prevent illegal dealings, particularly when it comes to organ transplants involving unrelated individuals.

Which factors contribute to Kidney Transplant Demand in India?
• The demand is immense, with an estimated 2 lakh Indians reaching end-stage kidney failure annually.
• Kidney transplants are the most cost-effective and accessible option, with a procedure cost of about Rs 5 lakh.
• Kidneys have a longer viability outside the body compared to other organs, making them a preferred choice for transplants.

Potential solution
• To address the supply-demand gap, experts emphasize the need to promote deceased organ donations. Despite being ideal candidates for organ donation, only a small fraction of brain deaths result in organ donations.
• The government's initiative to create an Aadhaar-linked registry of donors aims to increase awareness and encourage more deceased donations, potentially revolutionizing the organ transplant landscape in India.

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