‘Transplant of Human Organs Act has grey areas’

Health Minister Suresh Shetty tells Stuti Shukla awareness the only way to increase cadaver donations

Written by Stuti Shukla | Published: July 3, 2013 12:35:11 am

More than 2,000 people are awaiting organ transplants. Despite a two-fold rise from 26 in 2011 to 46 in 2012,the number of cadaver donations is low as compared to demand. At 369,number of live donations in these two years was also low. What can the state do?

The only thing the state can do is step up awareness,so that more people pledge organs. Communities such as the Jains donate organs proactively. I recently met the cardinal in Mumbai to promote cadaver donation among Catholics. But awareness is expensive. Moreover,organ transplantation is a tricky issue with scope for racketeers to make money. However,social change is coming about. Earlier,people would hesitate to donate even blood.

Do you think the zonal transplantation coordination committee (ZTCC) needs to be more strict while sanctioning transplants?

ZTCC is already very strict. There are grey areas in Transplant of Human Organs Act,which can lead to misuse. These need to be looked at by ministry of medical education under which ZTCC functions.

A GR was issued four months ago allowing non-transplant hospitals having ICUs and operation theatres to retrieve organs from brain-dead patients. What has been the response of private hospitals?

A number of private hospitals have come forward. These hospitals speak to relatives of brain dead patients and inform ZTCC. Another GR issued around the same time makes it compulsory for hospitals to have a group of experts to confirm if a patient is brain dead. More than 300 hospitals in the state have already registered.

What are the recent steps taken by the health ministry to increase donations?

Last month,we launched an initiative with regional transport offices (RTOs) in Mumbai and Pune to encourage people applying for new licences or renewal to donate organs. A person who comes to RTO for a driving test will be given a booklet explaining the need for organ donation. He will also be given a pledge form. If the person agrees,a green heart organ donor sticker will be pasted on his/her licence. A similar initiative has been started in colleges.

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