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Should Organ Trade be legalised?

HUMAN ORGANS Transplant Act was enacted in 1994 and it put some curbs on the commercial trading of kidney. But it resurfaced in 1998 after discovery of organised rackets in Noida and Karnataka that year.

The organ trafficking is not new to the world and India is considered to be one of the biggest centres. The number of renal transplants has increased manifolds in last decade and has led to a number of ‘unrelated’ transplants in the name of ‘altruistic donation’. Kidney is a paired organ in the human body and one of the kidneys can be removed from a live person and thus, is most preferred organ in trafficking business. The donors are poor people, who are lured by very lucrative offers for jobs but are paid a meagre sum by brokers involved in the racket, while hefty financial gains are enjoyed by the person at the higher level of hierarchy.

Dr KumarThe Gurgaon kidney racket kingpin, Dr Amit Kumar, has been arrested and very soon will be deported to India from Nepal. Kumar has been on the run for few weeks. Only time will tell whether the arrest of kingpin would have any effect on the kidney trade going on in the country and worldwide. This incident has surely led to a debate as to whether organ sale should be legalised.

Consider a hypothetical situation, where the person X is living on dialysis for couple of years but could not find a donor for himself. One day, person Y, who is in dearth of money, approaches X and offers to donate his kidney for a certain amount. X can pay that much but knows that law does not permit him to do so. What should he do now? No guesses, he will go for it, whether legal or illegal!

There is a yawning gap between the demand and supply of kidneys worldwide and this leads to black marketing of kidney. Whenever one law is broken, there will be a series of illegal activities such as exploitation of recipient and donor, human rights violation. The rich people are ready to pay huge sum of money to save their lives, and there is a set of donors that donates for the sake of money only, or is made (forced) to donate the organ. In a last year’s report, World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that ten per cent of all transplants involved patients from developed countries to poor countries to buy organs. This was the case in this racket too, and Dr Kumar conducted 500 transplants in a few years, mainly involving the foreign recipients.

The various policies and strategies to boost the donations have not been successful. Till date, the supply of transplant organs is left to altruism but now we need some more imaginative strategies. We need to encourage a law of ‘presumed consent’, which authorises the doctors to remove organs from a ‘brain dead’ individual if there are no objections from the family members. Several European countries including Austria, Belgium, France, and Italy have legalised this law and they have witnessed increase in the number of donations.

We can also have a policy, where kidney sale is legalised and the recipient has to obey some pre-set rules such as health insurance cover for donor, no exploitation at any level, no commerce involved, etc. A review committee consisting of responsible persons can formulate these rules.

I think that we should now seriously look at this alternative because the current black market is accessible only to those people who have resources.

Organ TradeMany moralists will not agree with this point of view. Ethically thinking, we may feel that buying and selling of organs is wrong, but is it morally wrong to let a patient suffer and die on dialysis when something can be done to save his/her life? Why not legalise the sale of organs then?

Unless and until we bridge the ever-widening gap of demand and supply, such rackets will continue to flourish. The efficacy of the legal system is also questionable and very soon, we may see Dr Kumar on bail and the never-ending trial leading to nowhere.


3 thoughts on “Should Organ Trade be legalised?

  1. Yes legalizing the organ trade is one way out towards making the whole organ exchange take place in the open rather than driving it into a black market activity, done without any transparency.
    The BIG problem for India is no one has any credibility when it comes to creating a transparent system with enough teeth to “police” the system, so that the whole process is open and transparent.
    The Govt of India has proved time and again, that it can’t run any system with any level of efficiency or transparency. Most of the “systems” run by the Govt like public health care, PDS, Tourism promotion, civic governance and infrastructure don’t really evoke any confidence to hand this to the Govt to run. Instead of Mr Amit Kumar getting rich, some ruling political parties will then be making money off the organ trade, and offer no transparency, perhaps under the “official secrecy act”.
    The professional guild of doctors could have created this “organ exchange” – but the doctors are so tainted in India, that no one would have any confidence on any “system” run by them. Amit Kumar is one such glorious doctor a.k.a. Dr Horror and if and when this investigation is carried out, a huge number of so called highly trained doctors will spill out of the “cupboards”. The glorious doctors of India are also into killing female fetuses…in the millions, and are accomplices in murder of the most innocent of life forms. And these can’t be isolated cases, since the victims are in millions and they are spread out across India. So much for their professional education and the oath to “do no harm and protect/save lives”.
    Yeah you may say, that if the Govt is incapable, the doctors are worse, then maybe some NGO can help. Beware, NGOs in India don’t have a great track record either and besides who will oversee their activities and police it? If that is left to the Govt and our good old police – well you might as well let the Govt run it then.
    So it is a great idea to legalize the organ trade – just that in the Indian context, right now, for the life of me, I can’t think of any entity that has the credibility to take on and effectively manage this system. So just like so many other things that are rotting in India – or just working marginally, we may just leave it to fate and destiny and Amit Kumars of this world to keep exploiting people so that they can build palatial house in Canada and elsewhere over the lives of some poor people in India.
    BTW, you wait and see, just like the Nithari case – this dude and the whole lot of doctors will get out on bail and will get to keep their ill gotten wealth, which they must have stashed abroad, anyways. You see, no one is batting for the poor in India…we just have to live with the reality that a poor person’s life, his organs, his dignity, his needs are of no concern to the Govt or the so called highly educated elite of India…it is just poor people’s destiny to be exploited in any which way they can be, by the parasites living amongst us. In some ways their forefathers were better off, they just had to labor for the elite class – now their body parts are in danger of being stolen!


  2. Dear Sir,
    I, Sri Arunaudayaeswar Das, Residenat at : Cuttack, in the state of Orissa, Vide My Mobile No.: 09937541578 would like inform you that I have now financial problem. I want to transfer a kidney of mine to any body in India. But my problem should be solved at the earliest.


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