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‘Hospitals must have ethics panels’

Staff Reporter


Only two hospitals in Bangalore have ethics committees

‘Transplantation Act failed to achieve objectives’


Bangalore: It is vital that every hospital has an “ethics committee” to discourage the rampant organ trade — an activity that takes place with the collusion of touts and medical practitioners, said H. Sudarshan, former chairman of the Task Force on Health, Family Welfare and Vigilance.

Speaking at the second National Bioethics Conference organised by the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics here on Thursday, Dr. Sudarshan said that only two hospitals in the city had ethics committees — St. John’s Medical College Hospital and the Bangalore Kidney Foundation.

“Hospitals should promote blood related donors in order to discourage commercial dealings in human organs. This will also reduce chances of rejection and cut the cost of maintenance drugs,” he said. The Health Department, Dr. Sudarshan said, should take a proactive role in encouraging cadaver transplants.

A question from the audience generated a heated debate over the ethics of live donations of kidneys. “Why is the sale of a kidney for economic reasons seen to be more worrisome than the spate of suicides by farmers?” asked a member of the audience. To this, Farhat Moazam, founding chairperson of the Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Culture of the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation in Karachi, asked: “What sort of society are we if the only asset we have to trade is a part of our own body?” Drawing parallels between Pakistan and India, she said that the Human Organs and Tissues Transplant Ordinance, 2007 was passed in Pakistan last month to curb the rampant sale of kidneys in the country.

Kishore Phadke, paediatric nephrologist and secretary Zonal Coordination Committee for Transplantation, Karnataka, admitted that the Transplantation of Human Organs Act 1994 had “failed” to achieve its objectives.

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