Legal Aspects

Some legal details you should know about organ transplantation

The primary legislation related to organ donation and transplantation in India was enacted in 1994 to provide a system of removal, storage and transplantation of human organs for therapeutic purposes and for the prevention of commercial dealings in human organs.

Transplantation of Human Organs Act 1994 (THOA) is now adopted by majority of the states in India except J&K, who have their own similar laws.

As per the Transplantation of Human Organs Act (THOA) 1994, the following are the ways a person can get an organ for transplantation:

  • Live Related Donor – A family member (close/near relative) can donate to the other (Mother, Father, Son, Daughter, Brother, Sister, & Spouse).
  • Live Unrelated Donor – A relative/friend/colleague who is not a close/near relative can be a donor but the donation should be only out of affection and attachment or for any special reason and this requires  the approval of the authorisation committee appointed by State Government .
  • Deceased/Cadaver Donor – A person who is declared Brain Dead or Brain Stem Dead by a panel of doctors e.g., a victim of head trauma due to accidents or stroke where the brain stem is dead and cannot breathe on his own but is maintained through ventilator, oxygen, fluids etc. to keep the heart and other organs working and functional. Other type of deceased donor could be donor after cardiac death.

To address the inadequacies in the THOA 1994, amendment to the Act was passed by the parliament in 2011, and the rules were notified in 2014.

Some of the main provisions of the act along with amendments include matters related to Brain Death, Transplantation of organs and tissues from living and deceased donors, regulatory and advisory bodies for monitoring donations and transplantations, living organ donation, Swap transplantation, authorization for organ donation after brain death, donor management and charges of donor maintenance (not borne by donor family), organ donation in medico-legal cases, infrastructure and personnel for transplant centers and tissue banks, Qualifications of transplant surgeons, cornea and tissue retrieval technicians, mandatory requirement of transplant coordinators, mandatory registration of NGOs, GOs, societies and trusts, establishment of NOTTO (National Organ & Tissue Transplant Organisation, ROTTO and SOTTO, Central Registry, penalties for removing organs without appropriate permissions.