Doctors face 10-yr jail for organ racket

Doctors face 10-yr jail for organ racket

Cabinets move to amend Act aimed at protecting poor donors

The changes were driven by a Delhi High Court directive and accelerated by busting of two major kidney rackets in Bangalore and Gurgaon in the last two years.

The maximum punishment for guilty doctors has been raised to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment, whereas for the touts it would be seven years of rigorous imprisonment, said Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

The amended Act will make it difficult for foreigners to undergo easy and shady kidney transplants in India by presenting anybody as a family member.  The state-backed authorisation committee will be asked not to permit transplantation in cases where the recipient is a foreign national, and the donor an Indian.

For the poor

The move is aimed at reducing the vulnerability of poor and ill-informed Indians in the flourishing organ trade.

However, if foreigners have near-relatives in India, their kin will have to endorse the genuineness of the case before the authorisation panel to get permission.

The amendment includes allowing swap donation between family members of two patients. But no money would be exchanged. Spouses are allowed to donate organs only under certain specific circumstances.

The list of family members has been expanded to include grandparents and grandchildren, Azad said. Earlier, only parents, siblings and children were permitted to donate organs. The Transplantation of Human Organs Act (TOHA) was passed by Parliament in 1994, and it came into force in Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and the Union Territories the next year.

It was later adopted by all states except Jammu and Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh, which had their own legislations to regulate the transplantation of human organs, said Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.

Thriving trade

Despite having a regulatory mechanism for the transplantation of human organs, a thriving human organ trade survived in India leading to the exploitation of the economically weaker sections, she said.

Last year the Haryana police uncovered a major kidney racket in the national capital region in which doctors at shady clinics in Gurgaon, Delhi and Noida were involved. The racket had been active for the last nine years carrying out more than 500 transplants. A kidney racket was unearthed in Bangalore in 2007.