As India continues to have more than two lakh patients waiting for donor organs, the country's leading medical experts have said these pending cases can be dealt within a period of 1-2 years just by legalising commercial organ donation.
The doctors said legalised commercial organ donation can help hospitals bring down the cost of transplants, which currently is upwards of Rs 15 lakh per transplant.
"Government should realise that by legalising commercial organ donation, long pending backlog of two lakh patients waiting for the organs will get over in just 1-2 years," Managing Director of Gurgaon's Pushpanjali Hospital S.P. Yadav told IANS.
"With government not legalising commercial organ donation, even the doctors who are capable of performing transplant surgeries cannot do it," he added. According to medical experts, the government was not willing to even discuss the subject of organ donation in exchange for money -- blandly put, sale -- because it was apprehensive that poor people could be lured by the monetary factor.
However, Yadav said: "In fact, by legalising commercial organ donation, the government can ensure that the money for organ donation reaches the donor directly instead of going through brokers."
If the donor is a poor person, he said: "To ensure that the money is not misused, it can be invested on the donor's behalf for his better future." States like Gujarat and Tamil Nadu have been performing organ transplants in a better way compared to the rest country, he said.
Speaking to IANS, AIIMS Director and renowned surgeon M.C. Mishra said: "Legalising will at least prevent innocent poor people from getting exploited by the middlemen who do not pay them the promised money after they donate their kidneys or any other organ. A legal backing will help in doing away with the middlemen."
While in Western countries around 70-80 percent of people pledge their organs, in India only about 0.01 percent do so. According to Voluntary Health Association of India, even if commercial organ donation is not legal, about 2,000 Indians sell a kidney every year through brokers.
Former Director of NOTTO (National Organ & Tissue Transplant Organisation) Saudan Singh told IANS: "Legalising organ donation in exchange for money is required. Government doesn't know but the situation is such that 90 percent of the organ donation is happening by living donors, even if illegally, while cadaver donation, which is legal, happens only in around 5-10 percent cases."
Medical experts said that legalising commercial organ donation will increase the number of people pledging organs.
Ravinder Pal Singh, Director of Centre for Liver Transplant & Gastro Sciences at Saroj Super Speciality Hospital, said that after legalising commercial organ donation, there should be centres where people can register themselves for commercial organ donation and an identity card should be provided to them.
"After getting identity cards, they can donate their organs after six months. This will prevent racketeers from forcing, kidnapping to donate organs and other forms of forgery. This will definitely help in increasing the number of people donating organs," said Singh.