At the heart of the debate is a 17-year-old boy who on Friday filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking permission to donate his liver to his 43-year-old father, who has acute liver failure. The case sparked a debate over whether living minors should be allowed to donate their organs.
Allowing living donation among minors, a dependent population subject to manipulation and coercion, can best be avoided and instead, compulsory donation of deceased organs should be pushed, the doctors advised.
At the heart of the debate is a 17-year-old boy who on Friday filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking permission to donate his liver to his 43-year-old father, who has acute liver failure.
The case sparked a debate over whether living minors should be allowed to donate their organs. According to the law, a minor cannot donate organs or tissues before his death, except in exceptional circumstances.
Doctors, however, believe that instead of allowing organ donation among minors, we should push for a mandatory deceased organ donation program.
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Dr (Colonel) Avnish Seth of HCMCT Manipal Hospitals in Dwarka said here that the age of majority, 18, which is the legal threshold of adulthood, should also be considered as a threshold of reasonable emotional development before to be able to accept adult responsibilities.
The Human Organ and Tissue Transplantation Rules 2014 prescribe that live organ or tissue donation by minors will not be permitted, except for exceptional reasons, to be recorded in detail with justification with prior approval of the appropriate authority and the relevant state government, Seth said.
Shifting the focus to enable living donation among minors, a dependent population subject to manipulation and coercion, perhaps a slippery slope best avoided, Seth, VSM, Head-Medical Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Manipal Organ Sharing & Transplant, at Manipal Hospitals said.
Dr. Vikas Jain, Director of Urology and Renal Transplantation at Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, said that with favorable judgments in such cases, the future will see more and more such petitions and pose ethical issues.
The judiciary will have to play a major role in drawing a line where and when to stop. I think the government should pass laws to make deceased organ donation mandatory rather than encouraging all of this, Jain said.
Professor (Dr) Sanjeev Gulati, Senior Director, Nephrology and Renal Transplantation Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, said that in the absence of a viable cadaveric program, living organ donation remains a life-saving act.
He said the National Organization for Organ and Tissue Transplantation should approve such donations on a case-by-case basis rather than subjecting the family to the added stress of approaching the law in addition to illness.
I think in this case the minor should be allowed to donate with the consent of one of his guardians (as would have been done if the boy had undergone any other medical procedure) since the survival of his father depends on a successful liver transplant, he said.
In another case in May, a committee formed by the Maharashtra government refused a 16-year-old girl’s appeal to donate part of her liver to her ailing father, saying it was unsure whether the teenager consented to the medical procedure voluntarily. . The girl, through her mother, had petitioned the Bombay High Court to seek permission from the state government to donate part of her liver.