Don’t encourage meetings between donors, recipient’s family: Government body tells NGO
Mumbai city news: The National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation said the identities of the donor and recipient families should be kept confidential as it could lead to ‘legal complications’.mumbai Updated: Jul 05, 2017 01:01 IST
Sixteen -year- old Kamini Patel, hailing from Mehsana district of Gujarat, is counting down the days to celebrate the festival of Rakshabandhan.
She has already bought a ‘Rakhi’ for Bhupendar Vatnala, a twenty-five year old freelance photographer from Surat, who she considers as her ‘elder brother’. Both of them have known each other only for the last three years. However, today, they share an unshakable bond. “I am alive, because of Bhupendar made the decision to donate his father’s organs,” said Patel.
On 25 February 2014, Vatnala had consented to donating his brain-dead father’s organs- kidneys, liver and heart.
The liver was transplanted into Patel, a teen who was battling Wilson’s disease- a congenital genetic disorder, in which copper accumulates in the body.
A month after the liver was transplanted into her, Patel and Vatnala met each other for the first time. Their meeting was facilitated by a Surat-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) called ‘Donate Life’.
Since its inception in 2014, the NGO members have facilitated meetings between 125 donor and recipient families. Government officials from the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO), however said that such meetings between the donor and recipient families is ‘strongly discouraged’ as it could lead to ‘legal complications’ in future.
Nilesh Mandlewala, founder and president of ‘Donate Life’, which actively works with the Gujarat government to promote cadaver donation in the state, said that the founding members had decided from the beginning that the donor and recipient families will be allowed to meet.
“When a family decides to donate the organs, they are always curious about who the organ going to go to. We believe that the interaction between the families adds to the transparency of the programme,” he said.
The NGO has spearheaded the organ donation programme in Surat. Out of 217 cadaver donations in Gujarat between 2006 and 2017, 125 were from Surat, where the NGO played a vital role in counselling families to donate organs. Their efforts were applauded by the central government this year.
“The meetings arranged between donor and recipient families had helped built credibility in our awareness programme, a reason why there are so many donations from Surat,” Mandala added.
Dr Anil Kumar, deputy director general and programme officer of the National Organ Transplant Programme, however, said the identities of the donor and recipient families should be kept confidential. “There is no law as such which prohibits meetings between the two families. However, there have been three incidents in the past, where, the donor families have demanded monetary compensation from the recipient families, which is illegal,” he said.
“Distribution of the organs is done through a registry, and ideally the names of the donors and recipients have to be kept confidential,” he added.
Anirrudh Kulkarni, an organ transplant coordinator at Jupiter Hosital, Thane also said that they ‘restrict’ donor families from having any interaction with the recipient family. “It could lead to unnecessary complications in the future, hence we do not encourage it,” he said.