The state government has sent a recommendation to the Centre to recognise kidney swaps between patients’ families as ‘living-related transplants’ to simplify the approval process.
Considering it can take around five to seven years to get a cadaver kidney (from a brain-dead patient), swapping organs with another family in need of a transplant is often the best option for kidney failure patients whose relatives can’t donate because their blood group does not match.
But the process sometimes takes two to three months as families have to obtain permission from the ethical committee of the hospital and then the state Directorate of Medical Education as Research (DMER).
“When a woman, whose husband needs a transplant, gives a kidney to another man, she does it because his wife is donating a kidney to her husband in exchange. So, she is not donating to the husband, but for him. This is as good as a related transplant and should be treated like one,” said Dr Pravin Shingare, joint director of the DMER. “We have written to the union government officials and requested them to consider amending the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994 so that permission for related swaps can be granted at the level of the hospital itself,” he added.
Dr Shingare made this announcement at the screening of a 23-minute film by Pune resident Yashwant Chowgule to promote swap transplants.
Nephrologist Dr M Bahadur, who has conducted six kidney swaps at Jaslok Hospital, welcomed the recommendation. “Sometimes when one family is from another state they have to get permission from that state’s government and also from Maharashtra government. If the new system is passed, it will save families of patients a lot of trouble,” he said.
Senior transplant surgeon Dr Vatsala Trivedi, however, thinks it is not a good idea to allow hospitals to grant permission for swaps. "In kidney swaps, the recipient and donor are unrelated so going through the government authorisation committee should remain mandatory,” she said.