Kerala has begun the procedure to set up an Organ Transplant Society for Kerala (SOTTO) to deal with ethical, legal and other issues related to organ donations, as well as for regulation and promotion of the same. The society will aim to be fair and equitable in transferring organs, from deceased and living donors, to those in need. The society has been proposed to bridge gaps in the functioning of the existing system, which hampers progress in organ donation, and also to modify the system.
Kerala formally initiated organ donation of the deceased in 2102. The state named the Deceased Donor Organ Transplantation Programme ‘Mrithasanjeevani’ and Kerala Network of Organ Sharing (KNOS) coordinates organ donation in the state. In the proposal drafted for the society, it assessed that Kerala, which began to lead the country in organ donation, faced certain setbacks in recent years due to some scandals and adverse news reports on organ donations. It was also evaluated that there was a public perception that private hospitals violate medical ethics.
“The proposal had been there for a while and the official process to set up the society has started,” Dr Noble Gracious, state nodal officer office of KNOS told TNM. The proposal also pointed out that multiple regulatory authorities were working without proper coordination, due to time and resource constraints. It said that paperwork and formalities lead to delay in access to organs, for the most urgent cases.
Kerala’s Crime Branch, in an investigation in October this year, had found that a number of illegal transplantations had taken place in various parts of the state. “If these issues also have to be addressed, there needs to be a body like this,” Noble Gracious added.
The society would have a trust based approach to address doubts that still exist on organ donation based on the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act (THOTA). It would also ensure the involvement of stakeholders in its functioning with feedback and suggestions. The society also aims to ensure complete transparency in organ transplantation, and would assist the government in policy making. It would also collaborate with other scientific and professional societies, along with health institutions and authorities.