New Delhi: Organ
donors need to be fully informed about all possible outcomes of a
transplant which they are likely to experience after surgery, the
Delhi High Court has remarked.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher, hearing a case on liver donation, said it
would be appropriate if donors were informed about the possible
outcomes of such an operation as "in such like cases, lack of
informed consent could vitiate the entire process".
The court's observation came on the plea of a 62-year-old woman
awaiting a liver transplant. She had challenged a hospital's
decision not to allow the prospective donor to donate the organ.
Urmila Anand from Agra, suffering from chronic liver disease, has
been undergoing treatment at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital here
and was advised to undergo immediate transplant. She had even
found a willing donor, Gulab Devi, who has been associated with
her family for 30 years.
Passing the judgement, the court said the authorisation committee
of the hospital where the patient was admitted has to communicate
post-operative changes to the donor.
"In matters like this, the donor needs to be fully informed about
all possible outcomes of a transplant surgery. It is, therefore,
necessary that this aspect of the matter should also be recorded,"
Justice Shakdher said.
"In the video recorded by the authorisation committee (Indraprastha
Apollo Hospital), I did not find that the authorisation committee
had informed the donor as to the possible outcome(s) as also the
post-operative changes that she is likely to experience upon such
a surgery being performed on her," the court said in an order
passed last week.
The court also interviewed the prospective donor, Gulab Devi, and
concluded that her decision to donate a part of her liver was not
an informed decision.
It asked the appellate authority -- Directorate General of Health
Services (DGHS)-- to tell her about the outcomes of the operation.
"In these circumstances, it would be appropriate if the appellate
authority were to call the donor and inform her about the possible
outcomes of such an operation; their assessment as to whether she
has understood the possible outcomes of such an operation would be
vital to the decision-making process. In such like cases, lack of
informed consent could vitiate the entire process," said the
The court also set aside the order of the DGHS and asked it to
hear Anand personally in support of her appeal and decide the
appeal in 10 days.
According to Anand, Devi had given consent to donate a part of her
liver after her blood group matched that of Anand's.
However, the authorisation committee of the hospital, which
examines cases of organ donation by distant relatives, had
rejected their request on the ground that the donation involved a
Challenging the order, the patient's son filed an appeal before
the DGHS which rejected the appeal and backed the decision of the
Anand then approached the court.
Talking to IANS, Anand's lawyer Jitender Sethi said emergency
cases of transplantation had to be done as early as possible,
while the appellate authority took a long time in deciding these
"(Union Minister) Vilasrao Deshmukh, who was awaiting liver and
kidney transplants, died because he could not get donors on time,"
He said organ donation by Devi would be voluntary and out of love
"We also produced family photos taken 30 years ago to prove the
relationship between the donor and the recipient," said Sethi.
According to the plea, the hospital rejected the donation request,
saying there was financial disparity between the women, and
ignored their bonding for 30 years and the no objection
certificates issued by Uttar Pradesh Organ Transplantation
Committee, the District Authorisation Committee of Agra and
letters from a member of parliament and a mayor.
The blood groups of Anand's two daughters and a son did not match
with her group while Gulab Devi's did.
Sethi said the Delhi High Court, in a recent ruling, had held that
a request for donation of an organ could be considered on the
basis of the love and affection between the donor and recipient,
even when they were not related.
(Garima Tyagi can be contacted at email@example.com)