Frame guidelines specifying exceptional circumstances when minors can be allowed to donate organs: Delhi High Court

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The Delhi High Court recently ordered the Central government to frame guidelines on the exceptional circumstances in which a minor person can donate organs.

The Court issued the directive while allowing a 17-year-old girl to donate a part of her liver to her ailing father.

Justice Subramonium Prasad noted that Rule 5(3)(g) of the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules, 2014 indicates that in exceptional medical circumstances, a minor can be permitted to donate live tissues and organs.

“In view of the Report given by the Medical Board, AIIMS that Petitioner No.1 is physically fit to donate a portion of her liver to her father and quality of her life will not diminish and considering the fact that her father requires an urgent liver transplant as he is in the end stage liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis- cirrhosis (NASH), this Court is inclined to permit Petitioner No.1 to donate a part of her liver to her father,” the Court said.

It clarified that the order is being passed because the petitioner’s father was suffering from an end-stage liver disease and since the AIIMS report has said that the petitioner was physically fit to donate a part of her liver.

The father of the 17-year-old girl (represented by her mother as guardian) had been diagnosed with a prolonged liver disease named non-alcoholic steatohepatitis- cirrhosis (NASH), which required an urgent liver transplant.

While permitting the organ donation, the Court also noted that the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules, 2014 do not explain what are the “exceptional medical grounds” on which a minor can donate organs or tissues.

This could lead to arbitrariness while granting or rejecting permission for such donations, the Court observed.

Justice Prasad, therefore, ordered the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to lay down guidelines indicating the exceptional medical grounds on which organ donation by minors could be permitted, so that such guidelines may be adopted throughout the country.

The guidelines have to be framed in two months.

“Guidelines have to be laid down indicating the nature of exceptional medical grounds which can be adopted throughout the country by the appropriate authority and the State Governments. Respondent No.1 is directed to frame the guidelines under Rule 5(3)(g) of the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules, 2014 for the guidance of the appropriate authority and the State Governments while considering an application regarding permitting tissue donations by minors. The guidelines be framed within a period of two months from today,” the Court ordered.

Advocates Shantanu Singh, Ravi Sehgal, Divya Narayanan and Anuj Gupta appeared for the petitioner.

The Union of India was represented through advocates Jaswinder Singh and Poonam Rohilla.

Additional Standing Counsel Mehak Nakra appeared for the Delhi government.

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