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HC: People other than relatives can now donate kidneys

  • Published at 09:55 pm December 5th, 2019
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Earlier, the court issued a rule asking why the three sections of the Organ Transplantation Act 1999 should not be declared unconstitutional

The High Court gave a verdict yesterday regarding kidney transplants, saying that from now on, voluntary donors not relatives to patients, can now also donate kidneys for transplants. 

Earlier, the court issued a rule asking why the three sections of the Organ Transplantation Act 1999 should not be declared unconstitutional. 

The bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Khandaker Diliruzzaman delivered the verdict to update the unconstitutional section of this law after completing the hearing of the rule issued by the High Court.

Voluntary donors will have to undergo a physical and mental health checkup, and drug addicts are barred from being donors.

According to an amendment of the law in 2018, only 28 close relatives were eligible to donate kidneys to a patient. 

The petitioner's counsel, Barrister Rashna Imam, told reporters that the kidney donation process will be easier now following the court verdict.

"According to the current law, only relatives can be donors but sometimes a kidney match can’t be found and many relatives are unwilling to donate," she said.

But a monitoring process has to be reinforced to ensure that this update is not misused, Rashna Imam added. 

The petition was filed by Fatema Zohra with the High Court in 2017, challenging the constitutionality of sections 2 (ga), 3, and 6, of the Organ Transplantation Act 1999, which mainly focused on the definition of related persons.

Fatema donated a kidney to her sick daughter Fahmida, which got damaged after a year. 

She managed another donor who was prohibited from making the donation due to the restriction in the law.

Fatema later filed a petition with the High Court, seeking necessary orders on the issue.

On August 24, 2017, the High Court issued a rule asking the government to explain why the three sections of the act should not be declared unconstitutional.

On November 7, 2019, an expert committee submitted a report to the High Court in accordance with its August 28 order, stating that there is no need to allow voluntary donors other than certain relatives as it may give rise to numerous troubling issues, including organ trafficking.

The seven member committee headed by Md Rafiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Renal Association and pro-vice chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, delivered the report to the office of the registrar general of the Supreme Court on October 29 to place it to the High Court as per its earlier order.

Scenario of kidney disease in Bangladesh

According to the Kidney Foundation, each year 35,000-40,000 chronic kidney disease patients, out of about 18 million, develop kidney failure in Bangladesh. 

There are only 16 professors, 22 associate professors, and 36 assistant professors (out of 140 nephrologists) in the country for the treatment of these patients.

When asked about the chances of an increase in the illegal kidney transplant business due to the High Court verdict, Coordinator of Gonosashtaya Dialysis Center, Dr Mohib Ullah Khondokar, said it is the government's responsibility to prevent such cases.

The verdict will definitely make the kidney transplant process easier, he added.