APART from the use of Aadhaar cards to establish the identity of donors in live organ transplants, the involvement of an authority such as a magistrate would soon be necessary for the approval of such surgeries. This and other norms were agreed upon at a Monday meeting of Health Minister Deepak Sawant with 15 senior health department officials.
The meeting was attended by urologists, nephrologists, the principal secretary for health, the Director of Medical Education and Research (DMER), officials of the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) and the Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre (ZTCC) to frame Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) for live organ transplants in Maharashtra. According to those who attended the meeting, the members hit a deadlock on the subject of who would be held responsible for confirming the relationship between recipient and donor.
Nephrologists and urologists had protested last week after senior doctors were arrested in the Hiranandani hospital kidney racket case. While the nephrologists and urologists present at the meeting asked to be entirely relieved of involvement in deciding eligibility, the committee decided against this, citing the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, under which a doctor is responsible for counselling and monitoring patients slated for a transplant.
According to Sawant, “support will be extended to doctors in relaxing documentation burden, but black sheep involved in illegal transplants will not be spared.” “As we cannot overlook the central Act, doctors cannot be completely freed from the responsibility of patients’ documentation. Their involvement will always be necessary,” said Dr Gauri Rathod, assistant director at DHS.
According to ZTCC secretary Sujata Patwardhan, Aadhaar cards cannot be the sole proof of identity. “Aaadhar card cannot help establish relationship between donor and recipient. We still need a mechanism to confirm if they are related,” she said. An online software to track each transplant would be put in place, along with hospital details of waiting lists. Training sessions would be held with hospital CEOs, transplant coordinators, social workers and doctors to explain the Transplant Act.
A post-transplant protocol to monitor the health of both the donor and recipient would also be brought in place. The follow-up is aimed to check whether the donor is indeed related to the recipient and is taken care of after donating the kidney. According to members present in the meeting, the SOPs will be framed this week and presented for final approval, before being circulated to all hospitals registered for transplants.