The Health Ministry has made it mandatory for foreign nationals seeking organ transplant in India to be registered in the waiting list of hospitals following reports claiming they were being given preferential treatment by some private institutions.
The registered transplant centre has to intimate the Regional Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisations (ROTTOs) and the list of foreign nationals seeking organ donation in India has to be shared with the NOTTO (National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation) in advance, officials said here.
Also, an organ can be allotted to a foreign national only if there is no Indian recipient available to receive the donated organ at that time, said Dr Vasanthi Ramesh, Director of NOTTO.
Among the patients from abroad, NRIs and persons of Indian origin will be given preference.
"The issue of foreign nationals being preferred over Indian nationals for undergoing heart transplantation from an Indian donor was raised in Tamil Nadu after which a meeting was held in the ministry.
"It was decided that such foreign nationals have to be registered with a transplant hospital in India and the list of such people seeking organ donation in India has to be shared with NOTTO in advance," Dr Anil Kumar, National Organ Transplant programme officer in the Ministry of Health, said.
According to the data shared by the NOTTO, the number of organ donation has witnessed a decline as compared to last year. "This is mainly because the states do not share the complete data," said Dr Ramesh.
In 2018, there have been 4,805 kidney transplants (deceased- 892 and living 3913), 180 heart transplants and 1,130 (deceased 459, living -671) liver transplants, 145 lung transplants, 13 pancreas transplants, five hand transplants and one small bowl transplant so far.
Also, the total number of deceased donors is 571 so far.
In 2017, there were 1,684 kidney transplants, 339 heart transplants, 708 liver transplants, 125 lung transplants, 14 pancreas transplants and the total number of deceased donors was 905.
Dr Kumar also informed that only 14 states including Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand Maharashtra, Punjab, Assam, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Kerala and seven UTs have adopted the amended Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act.
The amended Act provides for a national networking between hospitals, states, regional bodies and the NOTTO through an online system for establishing a national registry and ensuring that procurement and distribution of organs and tissues to the waiting patients can be done in a transparent manner.
The biggest drawback behind the states not adopting the amended Act is that they will be under no obligation to share their data, officials said.