NEW DELHI: In a move that is likely to benefit patients waiting for organ donation, the government is planning to include step-parents, step-siblings and extended family members in the definition of 'near relatives'.
The ministry has put out a circular regarding amendment in the Human Organs and Tissues Transplantation Act, 1994 (as amended in 2011) to widen the definition of near relatives and has sought comments from the public till September 25.
According to a senior health ministry official, expanding the term would increase the availability of living donors in India.
The ministry had earlier amended the Act in 2011 and included grandfather, grandmother, grandson or granddaughter in the definition of near relatives.
The near relatives who could legally donate organs were initially defined as spouses, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters.
"...it has been observed that the expansion of definition of near relatives has not led to any significant increase in availability of living donors as grandparents are either too old to donate or can't donate due to some adverse medical condition, and grand children are usually too young to donate organs," the draft amendment read.
"Thus, the demand for organs outweighs their supply," it read.
As per the circular, the ministry has been receiving a number of grievances concerning the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994, of which majority are requests for organs due to non-availability of near relative donor or blood group mismatch with the near relative.
Suggestions in this regard can be sent to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare by email on email@example.com.