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Use unclaimed bodies for transplant, research: HC

CHANDIGARH:The Punjab and Haryana High Court has prescribed the use of unclaimed bodies for medical operations.

Use unclaimed bodies for transplant, research: HC


Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has prescribed the use of unclaimed bodies for medical operations. It has directed the UT Administration and the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation to put their heads together for considering an alternative use of unclaimed cadavers for medical research, transplants and other purposes instead of cremating them.

Justice Rajiv Narain Raina also asked the Administration and the corporation to tie up with the directors of the PGI, the GMCH, Sector 32, and the GMSH, Sector 16, to formulate a policy for beneficial use of cadavers to save life. Major private hospitals in the tricity are also to be associated with the programme.

  “This may also help in transplanting body organs and tissues in patients whose life depends on transplants and the state of the cadaver offers such an opportunity. The committee constituted under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, may also be consulted,” Justice Raina said.

The directions came after Municipal Corporation counsel Deepali Puri filed a status report stating that wood will not be used to cremate unclaimed bodies and the last rites will be performed through gas furnaces. It was added that two operational LPG furnaces were sufficient as per the current use. “A proposal for extension/expansion will be considered, if the use increases,” it was added.

A petition has already been filed by advocate Ranjan Lakhanpal for issuance of directions to set up a nodal office in all hospitals across the country where organ transplant could be done and a list of cadavers maintained at the national level for carrying out transplants immediately without loss of cadaver’s organs.

Describing himself as a “recipient of organ transplant”, Lakhanpal said he suffered from kidney failure and had to go through hell. He was fortunate to receive a kidney from a cadaver. However, most persons died waiting for someone to donate an organ. 

Lakhanpal said organ transplant was taking place in a few government hospitals. The procedure was highly technical and most private hospitals were not having enough instruments to deal with such operations.

He said less than 5,000 kidney transplants were carried out annually against the estimated requirement of more than 1.75 lakh. Around 1,000 liver transplants were performed every year, whereas more than 1 lakh perished due to liver disease. Only 10,000 heart transplants were performed, whereas the requirement was of 50,000.

“The waiting list in own state ranges from five years or more. In a large number of the cases, a patient dies for want of an organ. In most cases, a relation cannot   donate an organ as the blood group does not match or the tissues are not the same. The Transplantation of Human Organ Act, 1994, also prevented commercial dealings in human organs. Cadaver is not available and even if there is one, kin of such a patient do not allow transplantation for sentiments or emotional reasons,” the petitioner added.


What the Bench said

Justice Rajiv Narain Raina asked the Administration and the MC to tie up with the directors of the PGI, the GMCH-32 and the GMSH-16 to formulate a policy for beneficial use of cadavers to save life. Major private hospitals in the tricity are also to be associated with the programme.

This may also help in transplanting body organs and tissues in patients whose life depends on transplants and the state of the cadaver offers such an opportunity. The committee constituted under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, may also be consulted.—Justice Rajiv Narain Raina

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