Bharatiya Janata Party's Lok Sabha lawmaker Feroze Varun Gandhi plans to table a private member's bill in Parliament to make it compulsory for all adults to be registered as organ donors, in a bid to promote cadaver organ donation, though people will be free to opt out.
India has a shortage of organ donors and there is a huge gap that persists between demand and supply of organs. There is a need of 2,00,000 kidneys, 50,000 hearts and 50,000 livers for transplantation every year. Lack of strong policies to make organ donation compulsory leads to the death of over five lakh people every year in India, experts say.
It has been observed that organ donation in India is largely from living donors and the rate of organ donation from deceased persons is very low at 0.8 per million population as compared to more than 30% in other countries.
According to the Organ Retrieval Banking Organisation, only 22,500 people have registered for organ donation after death since 2010. As per the data from National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation, the total number of transplants for all organs by living donors was 27,259 whereas cadaver was 1,448. Lack of family consent and lack of educational awareness of the importance of the donation of organs can be attributed to the low cadaver donation rate in India. Therefore, healthcare experts say, there is a need for a policy to promote cadaver organ donation.
The bill speaks of a need for a policy shift from the current opt-in system to an opt-out system where every individual shall become a donor by default under the law and this will ensure that there is an increase in the rate of cadaver donations and reduction in the number of deaths due to non-availability of organs.
The bill proposes to make it compulsory for a citizen turning above 18 years of age to be registered as an organ donor unless otherwise an objection notice is filed by the person. All persons would need to register using their Aadhaar or any other ID for documentation.
This in line with the system followed in at least 44 other countries.
The Pilibhit MP told CNN-News18, "Even if in a population of 130 crore like in India, just 5 per cent agree to register for organ donation, the number of organs available for those who need it medically will go up by 15 per cent."
Talking about the urgency of the issue, Varun said, "This is for serious consideration as we are looking at saving about 3 to 4 million lives annually of those who die due to the lack of availability of organs."
Earlier, Varun had brought a private member's bill in the Lok Sabha with the proposal that MPs shouldn't be allowed to vote for their own salary increase. This later became law. Finance minister Arun Jaitley included this in his budget speech and that a statutory body further dealt with such salary hike.
Another private member's bill moved by Gandhi was for the right to recall an MP in case of a grievous criminal record.
Varun will be trying to table the Organ Donation Bill in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament.