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Kidney Trade: Curbing the Sale

The illegal barter of kidneys was first exposed when thirty poor women of the fishing community, living on Chennai’s outskirts, were discovered to have traded their kidneys.// The 1994 Transplant of Human Organ Act requires that only relatives of patients be allowed to donate kidneys for transplantation. However a recent report from the Ministry of Health of Tamil Nadu seems to indicate that several leading hospitals in the state encouraged the economically challenged in the society to pose as relatives in order to procure their kidneys. The middleman emerged as the main king-pin and helped to conveniently carry out this whole exercise on the poor in the urban slums, who were their primary target.

As a sequel to the recent exposure of the kidney commerce in Southern India, the licenses issued to two of Chennai’s hospitals have been revoked. These hospitals had been emphatically involved in the illegal trade of kidneys. This announcement was recently made by K.K.S.S.R. Ramachandran, the health minister of Tamil Nadu who also revealed that show cause notices were issued to thirteen other hospitals. The chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has warned that severe action will be taken against all erring hospitals and health personnels.

Fifty-four hospitals were provided with licenses for organ transplant out of which forty-nine were private hospitals. They comprised of hospitals from Madurai and Tirunelveli too. The hospitals whose licenses were revoked were M.R. Hospital and Ashwini Soundarya Nursing Home , both located in the city of Chennai. These hospitals were falsely documenting kidney transplant orders and freely forging signatures of the members of the approval committee.

Show cause notices were issued to Apollo speciality, Meenakshi Mission, ABC hospital, Vedanayagam Hospital and nine other hospitals, for not maintaining form III an d form IV relating to organ transplant. Not performing the required HLA tests on donor and recipients. Record –keeping was of poor standards in these hospitals and one of them had actually falsified records. Most of these hospitals did not do the appropriate medical tests that was innate to organ transplant, neither was any step taken to establish the relationship of the donor.

There is an acute scarcity of donors among the relatives of the patients, due to fear and apprehensions, and the present state of increased vigilance is bound to heighten the existing dearth. The minister has, however, given assurance to safeguard the patient’s interest. It has been generally agreed upon that cadaver-based transplantation from the brain dead is the right future strategy and must be vigorously propogated.

There is a need to regulate, strengthen and tighten the grip on the reign of affairs related to organ transplant. Measures have been undertaken to salvage the scenario and this has already begun to have its impact. They are -

? Stern action against erring hospital and individuals

? A letter from the nephrologists, surgeon and a hospital representative mandatory. The latter has to verify the authenticity of the documents

? Hospitals are required to present all details of the live- and cadaver-transplant taking place within their precints. Corneal transplants are exempted.

? State organ transplant authorization committee to comprise of police officials, revenue officials, NGOs, and legal experts.

? Cadaver–based transplantation to be promoted

Due to the severity of the present verification protocol there is, already, a huge reprieve from the tardiness associated with organ transplant. Detailed and proper documentation of all the organ transplants are perhaps happening for the first time in the s tate’s history. Great care is being taken to screen the applicants for kidney donation. This has rendered the middlemen jobless. There is a marked decrease in the number of live, unrelated kidney donor applicants in the past two months from 20 a week, before 2007 Jan, to 4-5 a week, now. There is a drop in applicants from other states of India too. A conscientious effort by the regulatory bodies and a vigilant public will secure India’s primary place in the health map of the world.

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