What is the legal procedure for a kidney transplant in India?

Kidneys are bean-shaped organs located on either side of the spine below the rib cage. Kidneys are essential for purifying the blood by removing toxins and other waste materials from the body. A kidney transplant is a complicated procedure. Hence, it requires permission from all concerned parties to disclose all the crucial information.

There are instances of the organ being mishandled by hospital authorities. Regulatory bodies have enforced a few legal requirements for a kidney transplantation procedure. For instance, a foreigner cannot undergo transplantation with an Indian donor. If a foreigner aims to get kidney transplantation in India, they will be required to bring a donor kidney from their country as per the respected embassy authorisation.

The need for a legal procedure for a kidney transplant

The kidney transplant cost in India is between INR 5-6 lakhs. There has been an upsurge in kidney failure patients in India, leading to an increased demand for organ transplants. Such circumstances have led to the commercialisation of organs. As a result, the legal procedures have been deployed to stop a few patients or hospital authorities from misusing the availability of the organs and give each patient a fair chance of securing a kidney.

The Government of India has passed the law ‘The Human Organ Transplantation Act, 1994’ for regulating, storing, removing and transplanting the human organs as per the need basis and eradicating the commercial dealing of the organs. In addition, patients can secure a donor kidney from their families or close relatives. The family as a unit, including grandparents, parents, siblings, children, grandchildren above 18 years, are considered near related donors.

Documents required for a kidney transplant in India

The receiver of the organ is asked to submit various identification-related documents of the individual donating their kidney. It also includes information regarding how the patient is related to the donor. For instance, a patients’ blood-related donors can be asked to confirm their relationship by showing relevant documents. In some instances, a DNA test can also be used.

In addition, non-related donors are asked to prove their motivation for donating the kidney, along with the critical documents. Non-related foreign and Indian nationals are also required to seek permission from relevant government-appointed authorisation committees. Such a committee will probe and evaluate the documents to rule out any discrepancies or commercialisation issues behind the donation.

Kidney transplantation guidelines

● The state government constitutes a coordination committee for overseeing all transplant-related issues.
● Live donation from relatives is encouraged, and a braindead patient is used for a cadaver transplant.
● The board of medical experts is required to approve the removal of human tissue or organs.
● Money transactions between the donor and the recipient are not encouraged. The people involved in commercial dealings of the organ without authority will be dealt with by law.

The rising organ trafficking and hospitals and patients misusing the transplant norms led to creation regulations. The Human Organ Transplant Act of 1994 includes:

  1. Regulating removal or transplantation from cadaver patients
  2. Regulating organ removal from healthy donors
  3. Guidelines for Hospital
  4. Punishment for those violating the act

The act has a significant impact in balancing the cadaver and living donor transplant. However, it has become a little cumbersome for live donor transplants in genuine cases.

The legal procedures for a kidney transplant in India
Kidney transplantation is legalised because of rapidly increasing kidney failure cases among patients with complications of diabetes and other chronic ailments. Such an enhanced organ requirement has led to some patients turning towards illegal activities such as organ trafficking.

● The recipient receiving treatment from a nephrologist and urologist must apply to the Chairperson of the Authorization committee in ‘form no. 10’ with the necessary documents to seek permission for an organ transplant from a non-related donor. Form no.10 is a non-judicial stamp paper indicating the donor’s willingness to donate the kidney. A valid document specifying permission of kidney transplantation for a particular patient, donor, hospital, and doctor and the application is taken ahead to the committee and is a non-transferable document.

● The medical director associated with the transplantation receives the application forwarded by the hospital administrator for transplantation to be performed with the necessary documents.

● The nephrologist and transplant surgeons with required investigations certify excluding family members from donating due to not having medical fitness. They are required to inform them about the alternative modalities of managing end-stage renal failure with possible long-term results. The permission rendered is authorised for a particular donor, and the patient, the hospital, doctors, and the application is sent to the committee and is untransferable. If the patient seeks to transfer to a different hospital, they need to write to the committee from the hospital he desires to undergo transplantation.

A surgical procedure is necessary for transplanting a kidney for a patient with end-stage renal disease. As kidney transplantation is a major procedure, the points mentioned above are required for the transplantation to be performed for genuine patients to undergo a transplant and prevent organ trafficking.