ORGAN DONATION IN INDIA (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Health)

News-CRUX-10     31st May 2024        
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Context: In a recent ruling with significant implications for organ transplantation, the Madras High Court held that donor consent, even from unrelated individuals, must be accepted by the authorisation committee at face value unless there is evidence of financial transactions.

Transplantation of Human Organs Act (THOA) 1994

  • Source of Transplants: A transplant can originate from a pool of organs donated by deceased persons' relatives or from a living person known to the recipient.
  • Living Donations Under the Act: The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994 permits living donations, primarily from close relatives like parents, siblings, children, spouse, grandparents, and grandchildren.

o Altruistic donations from distant relatives, in-laws, or long-time friends are allowed after additional scrutiny, ensuring no financial exchange.

  • Documentation for Living Donations: In cases of living donations from close relatives, whether Indian or foreign, various documents including identity proofs, family tree, pictures, and documents proving the donor-recipient relationship must be submitted.
  • Legal Consequences: Initiating or participating in transactions involving payment for organs, advertising such arrangements, seeking organ suppliers, and aiding in the creation of false documents are punishable offenses.
  • Penalties: Imprisonment for up to 10 years and fines up to Rs 1 crore.

Madras High Court Ruling Organ Transplantation

  • Shifting the Burden: Madras HC said that the donor and the recipient “can only assert that there is no commercial dealing. They cannot be called upon to prove the negative too much of burden cannot be laid on their shoulders.”
  • Verification: In case of doubt, the authorisation committee could seek explanation from the applicants and if necessary, a verification could also be carried out through the government officials.
  • Importance of Donor's Intentions: The court emphasized that if the donor expresses altruistic motives for organ donation, such intentions should be unquestioned in the absence of valid reasons.
  • Risks of Arbitrary Decision-Making: Without proper guidelines, the judge warned of the potential for arbitrary decisions by authorization committees.