Scroll Top

NAVIGATING THE LEGAL AND POLICY LANDSCAPE OF ORGAN DONATION IN INDIA: A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE

INTRODUCTION

Organ donation is a critical issue in India, where millions of people suffer from organ failure every year. According to a report by the National Health Portal, nearly 5 lakh people in India die each year due to the unavailability of organs for transplantation[1]. The lack of organ donors is a significant challenge in the country, and many people are not aware of the benefits of organ donation. The organ donation rate in India is very low, at only 0.65 donors per million population (DPM) in 2020[2].

Organ donation in India has been gaining momentum in recent years, but there is still a significant gap between the number of people who need organs and the number of organs that are available for transplant.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR ORGAN DONATION IN INDIA

  • The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994:

The Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994[3] (THOA) was the first law related to organ donation in India. The THOA aimed to regulate the removal, storage, and transplantation of human organs for therapeutic purposes and to prevent commercial dealings in human organs. The act allowed for organ donation from brain-dead donors and living donors who were genetically related to the recipient[4]. The act also provided for the establishment of a regulatory framework for the registration of hospitals that were authorized to perform organ transplantation[5].

  • The Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act, 1995:

In 1995, the THOA[6] was amended to include more provisions that aimed to regulate the organ donation process. The amended act prohibited the purchase and sale of human organs and established a regulatory framework for the registration of hospitals that were authorized to perform organ transplantation[7]. The act also provided for the establishment of an appropriate authority to monitor and regulate organ transplantation[8].

  • The Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act, 2011:

In 2011, the act[9] was further amended to widen the scope of organ donation in India. The amended act mandated the creation of a national registry of donors and recipients to facilitate the organ donation process[10].

  • The Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act, 2014:

In 2014, the act[11] was amended again to improve the organ donation process in India. The amended act mandated that all hospitals that had intensive care units and were equipped to handle brain-dead patients should have a transplant coordinator to coordinate the organ donation process[12]. The act provided for the creation of a National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) to coordinate and streamline the organ donation process in India[13].

  • National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO):

Apart from the THOA, India also has the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO), which was established in 2014[14]. NOTTO is responsible for coordinating and streamlining the organ donation process in India. It is also responsible for maintaining a national registry of donors and recipients, and for creating awareness about organ donation in the country[15]. The organization has been instrumental in creating a regulatory framework for organ donation in the country.

POLICY ANALYSIS FOR ORGAN DONATION IN INDIA

Despite the legal framework in place, there are still several policy issues related to organ donation in India. One of the biggest issues related to organ donation in India is the lack of awareness and education about organ donation among the general public. Many people in the country are not aware of the benefits of organ donation, and there are several myths and misconceptions about the process. This lack of awareness is a significant barrier to increasing the number of organ donors in the country.[16] The number of organ donors in India is far less than the number of people in need of organs. This shortage of donors is a significant challenge in the country, and there is a need to increase the number of registered donors. To address this issue, there is a need to promote deceased organ donation, increase public awareness about organ donation, and establish effective donor registries. Religious and cultural beliefs also play a significant role in organ donation in India. Some religious and cultural groups in India are opposed to organ donation, which can make it difficult to increase the number of organ donors in the country. It is essential to engage with these groups and raise awareness about the benefits of organ donation to overcome these barriers.[17] Another challenge related to organ donation in India is the lack of infrastructure to support the organ donation process. Many hospitals in the country do not have the necessary infrastructure to perform organ transplants, which can limit the availability of organs for transplantation. Illegal organ trafficking is also a significant issue in India, where there have been instances of organs being bought and sold illegally. This illegal trade in organs is a significant challenge and can undermine public trust in the organ donation process. There is a need for stricter enforcement of laws and severe penalties for those involved in illegal organ transplantation.[18]

WHAT CAN BE DONE

There is a need to increase awareness and education about organ donation among the general public. This can be done through campaigns, public events, and social media. Schools and colleges can also play an essential role in educating young people about organ donation. There is also a need to promote deceased organ donation in India. The government can work with hospitals to establish organ donation committees and provide training to staff to help identify potential donors. Families of deceased individuals can also be approached sensitively to encourage them to consider organ donation.

Engaging with religious and cultural groups that are opposed to organ donation is essential. This can be done through outreach programs, partnerships with community leaders, and raising awareness about the benefits of organ donation. It is also necessary to build infrastructure to support the organ donation process, including facilities for organ retrieval, storage, and transplantation. The government can work with hospitals and other organizations to establish these facilities and provide training to staff.

The government should enforce strict laws and penalties for those involved in illegal organ trafficking. This can be done by increasing surveillance, implementing stricter regulations for organ transplantations, and increasing awareness among the general public about the dangers of illegal organ trafficking.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, organ donation is a severe issue in India, where hundreds of thousands of people succumb each year to organ failure. However, there is hope, as the government and various non-governmental organizations are working to increase awareness about organ donation and establish effective systems to facilitate the organ donation process. It is also essential for each one of us to understand the importance of organ donation and register ourselves as organ donors. By doing so, we can contribute to saving lives and bringing hope to those in need. Together, we can make a significant impact on the organ donation landscape in India and improve the quality of life for millions of people.

Author(s) Name: Eeshani Singh (National Law University, Odisha)

References:

[1] Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, ‘National Organ Donation Day celebrated in Health Ministry’ (Press Information Bureau, 2020)  https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1676491 accessed 4 April 2023

[2] Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, ‘Dr. Harsh Vardhan presides over the 10th Indian Organ Donation Day’ (Press Information Bureau, 2019) https://pib.gov.in/Pressreleaseshare.aspx?PRID=1594355 accessed 7 April 2023

[3] The Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994

[4] The Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, pt 2, s 6(b)

[5] The Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, pt 3, s 10

[6] The Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act, 1995

[7] The Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act, 1995, pt 5, s 4(i)

[8] The Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act, 1995, pt 7

[9] The Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act, 2011

[10] The Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act, 2011, s 13(D)

[11] The Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act, 2014

[12] Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules, 2014, s 9(3)

[13] The Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act, 2014, s 31

[14] The Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act, 2014, s 31

[15] The Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act, 2014, s 31(b)

[16]  Dr. Christopher Taylor Barry, ‘Organ Donation Challenges Are Universal’ (ORGAN, 2015)  https://www.organindia.org/ORGAN-DONATION/organ-donation-challenges-are-universal/ accessed 4 April 2023

[17] Dr. Christopher Taylor Barry, ‘Organ Donation Challenges Are Universal’ (ORGAN, 2015)  https://www.organindia.org/ORGAN-DONATION/organ-donation-challenges-are-universal/ accessed 4 April 2023

[18] Palak Kaushik, ‘Analysis : India’s Organ Trafficking Problem’ (Justice Upheld, 4 Mar 2022)  Analysis: India’s Organ Trafficking Problem – Justice Upheld  accessed 4 April 2023