Representational file image.

Representational file image.
| Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Union Government has set a timeline of six to eight weeks for health authorities in the States/Union Territories to decide on applications seeking living donor organ transplantation.

The decision follows a Delhi High Court order in January, which directed the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to prescribe timelines for steps in the process of considering an application pertaining to living donor transplantation by the authorisation committee. Notifying the timelines, the Ministry requested Health Secretaries of States/UTs to follow the guidelines as it would immensely help in expediting the decision-making process.

Also read | Poor identification of brain death cases impacting organ donations: Health Ministry

Authorisation Committees constituted under the provisions of the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994, were told to process applications within 10 days, and give one week time to the donor or recipient for responding to queries or deficiencies in the documents.

Within seven days of the receipt of all required documents, the Authorisation Committee was told to hold an interview with the donor and recipient and publish their decision on the hospital’s website in 24 hours. The entire process, from submission of documents to decision “ought not to exceed 6 to 8 weeks,” the Joint Secretary, MoHFW, said in the communication. Any appeal under Rule 33 of the Act against the decision of the Authorisation Committee would have to be decided within a maximum of 30 days.

E-Aadhaar verification mandatory

The Health Ministry said e-Aadhaar verification of identity of the donor and recipient should be mandatory in the case of both near relative (mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister and spouse), and other than near relative living donor (can donate only for the reasons of affection and attachment or for any other special reason and that too with the approval of the Authorisation Committee). Donation from a minor living donor shall not be considered without the prior approval of the Appropriate Authority and the State Government concerned. Such cases would have to be considered strictly as per the guidelines notified by the Government of India.

The Centre made it clear that no swap transplant between a pair of foreigner donor and recipient and a pair of Indian donor and recipient shall be considered by the Authorisation Committee as under the Act “no Indian donor can donate to a foreigner unless he/she is a near relative…”

The decision to fix a timeline for deciding living donor organ transplant applications was necessitated by an order of the Delhi High Court which ruled in the Amar Singh Bhatia, a former Indian Air Force personnel who was diagnosed with end-stage chronic kidney disease. After no decision was taken on his application to receive a living donor organ, he moved the court seeking relief and died during the pendency of the case.

The court had ruled that the non-adherence to the timelines had resulted in extended waiting time of two to three years in some cases before a decision was made, which contradicted the intent and also the spirit of the Act. 

“Such prolonged delays can cause significant mental and physical anguish for both the donor and recipient as also their families. Therefore, clear and prompt communication regarding the application is essential, whether it be oral or written, to enable the donor/recipient and their respective families to proceed further with the decision-making process,” the court had said.

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