August 22, 2008

Amend Organ Transplantation Act: Nephrologist

By Prafulla Marpakwar

Mumbai: Leading nephrologist Ashok Kirpalani has called for changes in the Human Organ Transplantation Act, a move that would facilitate setting up an independent committee to evaluate the donors and recipients.

"Our law is based on the British Organ Transplantation and Human Tissue Act. The British administration amended it about a year ago, so we should follow them in the larger public interest," said Kirpalani, who has done pioneering work in the field of nephrology. The amended British Act requires that every living transplant donor and recipient-regardless of whether the donor is related or unrelated-is assessed by a formally trained third party . "In India, I feel that the law should be amended to provide for setting up an independent committee," he said.

Another nephrologist said that once the independent committee gives approval to a hospital and operative team, the hospital and doctors should not be made responsible for any legal liability as far as donor and recipient's relationship or permission is concerned. Secondly , any issue related to transplant should be addressed to the appropriate authority, no police probe either under the Indian Penal Code should be directed against the hospital or doctors.Currently, permission for kidney transplant is given at two levels. If the donor is related, then the permission is given by a committee at the hospital level and if the donor is not related, then the permission is given by a state-level committee headed by the director of medical education and research.

Prominent nephrologists were upset after the crime branch had summoned a section of leading urologists of the Hinduja hospital in a seven-year-old case.

Subsequently, the Hinduja hospital had stopped all kidney transplants, while other hospitals had adopted a cautious approach. Later, nominees of the Urological Society and Nephrology Society had independently written to thedirector of medical education , W B Tayde. "Since most of the hospital had taken up a cautious stand, I had a prolonged meeting with nominees of both the organisations and leading urologists and nephrologists to discuss the crisis situation," Tayde said.

Now, Tayde had asked the representatives of the two societies to set up a three-member committee to suggest amendments to the Human Organ Transplantation Act. Initially , it was proposed that government itself will set up a committee. However, later it was felt that the suggestions should come from the organisations . "I have requested the organisations to submit their suggestions within a week, so that we can take it up with the Centre," Tayde said. The Hinduja hospital has resumed kidney transplant procedures. "For last three months, we had stopped the procedures. But in the past week, we have performed two cases of cadaver transplants," said G B Daver, director of Hinduja hospital.

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