A new lease of life – Changes in organ transplant rules | 20th February 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about recent changes introduced in the organ transplant rules.


  • GS2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health;
  • Prelims


  • Recently, the Union Health Ministry modified national organ transplantation guidelines to facilitate the process of organ donations in India.
  • The Union Health Ministry is working on a 'One Nation, One Organ Allocation' policy in consultation with states to come up with uniform guidelines for registration, allocation and other aspects of the process.

What are the regulatory frameworks guiding organ transplantation in India?

  • In India, Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994 provides various regulations for the removal of human organs and its storage.
  • It also regulates the transplantation of human organs for therapeutic purposes and for the prevention of commercial dealings in human organs.

What modifications have been introduced to organ transplantation policy?

  • No Age Cap:
    • The upper age limit has been removed as people are now living longer.
    • The new guidelines have done away with the 65-year age limit for registration of patients seeking organs from a deceased donor.
  • No domicile requirement:
    • The domicile requirement to register as an organ recipient in a particular state under a ‘One Nation, One Policy’ is removed.
    • Now the needy person can go to any state of the country and register for getting organs and also get the transplant done.
    • The patient will be allotted a unique ID by NOTTO on registering.

National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO):

  • NOTTO is a national level organization set up under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • It functions as apex centre for all India activities of coordination and networking for:
    • procurement and distribution of organs and tissues; and
    • registry of Organs and Tissues Donation and Transplantation in country.
  • No registration fee required:
    • There will be no registration fee that states used to charge for this purpose, the Centre has asked states that used to charge for such registration to not do so.


  • India conducts the third highest number of transplants in the world every year. Yet barely four per cent of the patients who require a liver, heart or kidney transplant manage to get one.
  • The percentages are very likely to go up once the changes in the rules announced last week take effect.
  • The organ shortage problem is, however, a complex one, that continues to confound planners, even in nations whose healthcare systems are far better equipped than that of India’s.
  • The country’s organ transfer law recognises donations by the patient’s close relatives — parents, spouses and siblings.
    • In case, a near relative is medically incompatible with the recipient, the pair is permitted a swap transplant with another related unmatched pair.
    • But by all accounts, a majority of organ donations in the country are not by the close kin of patients.
  • Such donors have to convince a screening committee of their altruistic motives.
  • Regular scams have shone the light on a black market that lures the desperately poor to sell their organs, while disguising the transaction as altruistic.
  • Suggestions to make the proceedings of the committees more transparent have largely been ignored by authorities.
  • But the country’s growing burden of lifestyle diseases mean that such tasks cannot be put off for long.
  • Increasing the pool of organs will require regulatory creativity without compromising on ethical imperatives — including those related to showing sensitivity to the concerns of a prospective donor’s relatives.
  • For that reason, the opt-out systemit assumes all citizens to be donors unless they “opt out”adopted in some Western countries may not be apt for a country such as India, where awareness of organ donation is low.

Way Forward:

  • The changes to the organ transplant rules announced by the Union health ministry are small, but significant, steps towards giving a new lease of life to many people with failing organs.
  • These changes in rules show the government’s inclination to resolve a difficult predicament. It needs to do more.

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