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All A to Z about Organ Donation

A) Introduction :

The Medical Science has bestowed various benefits upon mankind and Organ Donation is one of them. Organ donation puts life in the needy patient, in the sense that the damaged organ in the body of the patient is replaced by the organ of the Donor, in absence whereof the needy patient would have died because of the dysfunctional organ. The Person who donates the Organ is called as DONOR and the person in whose body the organ is transplanted is called as RECIPIENT. Every year 13th August is celebrated as Organ Donation day all over the world.

B) Indian Law :

1. There cannot be anything as valuable as human life. Unfortunately, the ratio of Donors and Beneficiaries is heavily inverse and thus the human organs which can be donated like kidney, Liver, heart, lung, pancreas, skin, eyes, ears have tremendous demand. Reportedly, 5 lakh people die because of non-availability of organs. 2 lakh people die of liver disease. 1,50,000 people await a kidney transplant, whereas only 5000 get one ! More than 10 lakh await eye transplant This is the reason that organ trafficking is a major problem for want of non-corrupt and efficient health care system.
2. The Human Organs Transplant Act, 1994 in India starts with the aims and objects as,
i)An Act to provide for the regulation of removal, storage and transplantation of human organs for therapeutic purposes
ii) for the prevention of commercial dealings in human organs
iii) to provide for the regulation of removal, storage and transplantation of human organs for therapeutic purposes and for the prevention of commercial dealings in human organs.

C) Type of Donation
i) Live donation – Where organ transplant takes place between the patient and his close friend or a family member
ii) Cadaveric donation- Where a person pledges his organs for harvesting and donated after his death.

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D) Who can be the Donor :
i) Any person of 18 years of age and above is eligible for organ donation. Such person has to make his wish of Organ donation in writing by making a Will, which has to be witnessed by two persons, one of whom shall be near relative of the Donor. The Term near relative has wide scope and includes spouse, son, daughter, father, mother, brother or sister
ii) If there is no such Writing, then the person in whose lawful possession the body is, can give permission for organ donation. The Forms of Organ Donation are available in all the authorised Hospitals, which are registered under the said Act. So please do see that the Hospitals are authorised to do the needful..
iii) In case of Brain-Stem death or Brain Dead cases also Organ donations are permitted by the consent of Panel of Expert Doctors of the Hospitals. Brian Stem death is such a situation where all functions of the brain-stem have permanently ad irreversibly ceased..If the patient of Brain-stem death is below 18 years, then the prior permission of parents is a must..
iv) In case of unclaimed bodies in Hospitals or in prison, if there is no claim within 48 hrs from the death about the body, then the Concerned authority has right to donate the body. Such donations may save the precious life of someone!
v) One may donate some of his/her organs during his/her life time subject of the provisions of the Act. During life time one may donate a Kidney, part of pancreas, part of liver etc, after prior permission of the concerned authority. The main function of the authority is to check trafficking of human organs.
vi) If the Donor and the beneficiary are near relatives of each other, then the permission of the Authority is not required. Only exception is if any one of them is not the resident of India or if the Donor is of below 18 years, then permission is required. In all other cases prior permission is a must!

Recently in an interesting judgment, Hon. Delhi High Court came to the rescue of Syeda Noor Afsan, a Pakistani National who was fighting for her husband who was fighting for his life due to liver failure and kidney failure. The lady came to Delhi from Karachi with ray of hope of organ donation, but got trapped in getting various permissions from Govt. Departments. As unfortunately, she was declared medically unfit for donating her own organs, she told the authorities that one of her friend from Karachi was ready to donate organs. As every day was important and she was not getting any positive response from the Government, she knocked the doors of justice and His Lordship Sanjeev Sachadeva asked the concerned authorities of Hospital and the Health Department to consider Afsan’s plea of organ transplantation.
vii) Organ donation/transplantation can be made only in such Hospitals/Clinics which are registered under the said Act. Exception to this rule is of donation of Ears and eyes, which can be removed from the dead body from anywhere.

E) Offenses :
Illegal removal of human organs and for receiving or making payment for a human organ is a punishable offense under this Act.

F) Obstacles in Organ Donation :
The Religious beliefs of people are the main obstacles in the organ donation movement. People have wrong, but firm belief that the body of the deceased is mutated while removing organs. So we must change our vision so that someone may get an eyesight !!

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Adv. Rohit Erande
Pune.

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