Organ transplant rules: Health ministry urges MHA, MEA to educate foreigners

  • Health ministry has requested both ministries that the information related to organ transplant laws should be displayed at prominent places at airports and on the Bureau of Immigration's web portals for a wider reach.

Priyanka Sharma
First Published21 Jun 2024, 02:42 PM IST
Till October 2023, approximately 504,000 foreign nationals have visited India for medical treatment.
Till October 2023, approximately 504,000 foreign nationals have visited India for medical treatment.

The Union health ministry has asked the Union home and external affairs ministers to sensitize foreign nationals visiting India for organ transplants about the legal requirements for the process.

The move comes amid a rise in alleged commercial dealings involving foreign citizens in the country.

“It is essential for these foreign nationals visiting India for organ transplants to understand the specific guidelines and legal requirements that regulate the process of organ transplantation in India,” Apurva Chandra, Union health secretary, communicated to the ministry of home and external affairs in a 19 June letter reviewed by Mint.

Also Read: Many lives could be saved by making organ donation our default option

Chandra has requested both ministries that the information related to organ transplant laws should be displayed at prominent places at airports and on the Bureau of Immigration's web portals for a wider reach.

Rules and regulations 

The letter stated that organ and tissue donation and transplantation are regulated in India under the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act (THOTA), 1994.

The law prohibits any commercial dealings in human organs or tissues. However, it allows an Indian to donate her organs to a close relative—spouse, son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, grandson or granddaughter.

Foreign donors or recipients require prior approval from the Authorization Committee for organ or tissue transplantation. Besides, a senior official—of the embassy of the country of origin in India—is required to certify the relationship between the donor and the recipient as per form 21.

Also Read: Organ donations may not remain just a family affair for much longer

“In this case, foreign patients needing organ(s) from a deceased donor for transplant can also seek registration in India through their treating hospital, after which their name will be included in the waiting list registry. However, such cases would be considered for o only when there is no Indian patient, is available to take that organ in the whole country,” the letter said.

Increased vigilance 

In April, the Union health and family welfare ministry also asked state governments, Union territories and the ministry of external affairs (MEA) to share details of foreign patients coming to India for medical treatment and transplants.

Foreigners mostly come to private hospitals, and it is the duty of private hospitals to educate such patients before they come to the country, said Dr Anil Kumar, director, National Organ Tissue Transplantation Organization (NOTTO), adding that “it is not being done properly”.

Also Read: From road rage to anxiety – Understanding noise pollution’s impact on health

That's why "Indian high commissions, Bureau of Immigration and the MEA have been requested to display these messages to educate foreign patients”.

Queries sent to spokespersons of Union health and external affairs ministries remained unanswered.

Till October 2023, approximately 504,000 foreign nationals have visited India for medical treatment, the Union tourism ministry informed Parliament last year.

 

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First Published:21 Jun 2024, 02:42 PM IST
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