Redefining ‘near relatives’ in the current Human Organs and Tissues Transplantation Act

Around half a million Indians battling end-stage organ failure die every year, hoping, praying and waiting for organ transplant. The rate of organ donation in the country is significantly low as compared to our western counterparts with the Indian rate being 0.26 donors per million population. According to the current legislation of the Human Organs and Tissues Transplantation Act 1994 (amended in 2011), only relatives of the recipient including mother, father, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandsons and granddaughters can donate their organs. However, the recent move to widen the definition of ‘near relatives’ category in the Act by including step-parents, step-siblings and extended family members is likely to benefit people as the possibilities of securing living organs will increase. The passage of this amendment will also help in overcoming challenges such as adverse medical conditions, mismatch of blood group, age and other factors which may exist in the current scenario and will act as a catalyst in bridging the demand and supply gap for organs in the days to come. – Dr. K R Bala Krishnan, Director, Cardiac Sciences, Chief Cardiothoracic & Transplant Surgeon, Fortis Hospital