Seminar on Ethical Issues in Organ Transplantation

102_3689   As part of the Department academic programme, a seminar on the ethical issues in Organ Transplantation has been organized by Department of Social Work on 12th April 2013 at 3pm at A005 hall in the ground floor. Dr Renjith R Pillai, Head of The Department was the chair person and Ms Preethy L and Ms Sukanya Vijayan were the presenters. The chairperson delivered a brief description on organ transplantation and its relevance in the current scenario and welcomed the presenters for the presentation. Ms Preethy introduced the whole topic and all the aspects in organ transplantation and Ms Sukanya handled the discussion and question-answer part. The presentation included the transplantation process, the sources for donor organs, Transplantation of human Organs Act 1994, NGOs in organ transplantation, ethical issues in the process, organ shortage and the role of Social Worker in relation with transplantation. An organ transplantation is a surgical operation where a failing or damaged organ in the human body is removed and replaced with a new one. The transplant process evaluates the patients’ health and mental status as well as the level of social support. Every year more than 10 lakh people in the country are estimated to suffer from organ failure. At the current scenario we require as many as 30,000 cadaver liver every year for transplants, but hardly 1000 are available.

Transplantation of Human Organs Act 1994

The increasing number of people in need of organs and its high value has led to the emergence of organ rackets especially kidney rackets. So, there is an Act to provide for the regulation of removal, storage and transplantation of human organs for therapeutic purposes and for the prevention of commercial dealings in human organs.

Ethical issues

The primary ethical dilemmas surrounding organ transplantation arise from the shortage of available organs. The concept of distributive justice; how to fairly divide resources-arises in organ transplantation. This is because there are not enough organs available for everyone who needs one. The advanced way to avoid the ethical problems associated with the shortage of transplantable organs is to increase the number of donor organs i.e. cadaveric organ donation and living organ donation. Paying people to donate their kidneys is one of the most contentious ethical issues debated at the moment. Social workers plays an prominent role in organ transplantation in all aspects such as educating the public regarding organ donation, providing support to the families of the organ donor before, during and after the decision, evaluation of addictive and harmful behaviors and helping to provide counseling and support groups, financial counseling etc.

After the informative presentation, it was the time for Question- Answer session. The questions asked and their answers provided are mentioned below:102_3694

Question-Answer session

  • Ms Parvathy (S4 MSW)

Qus: Is there any govt. based organizations in Organ Transplantation?

Ans: Yes, There are such organizations existing. One such agency is working in NIMHANS which is in fact government recognized.

  • Anoop (S4 MSW)

Qus: What all are the legal issues behind Organ Transplantation?

Ans: It depends on the legal formalities existing in case of the first degree and second degree donors. The first degree consists of family or relatives who are ready to transplant the organ. They have no much complex legal formalities but in the case of second degree there exists more legal complications.

  • Ruby (S4MSW)

Qus: How does it mean that ‘pressure’ affects the process?

Ans: Here ‘pressure’ is not in relation with medical mean rather it is the kind of stress, tensions etc.

  • Vishnu K Santhosh (S4 MSW)

Qus: Is government providing any funds to NGOs working in Kerala?

Ans: Government is providing but not in an equitable way.

  • Joby T Lal (S2 MSW)

Qus: Is there any NGOs working in Kerala in the area of organ transplantation?

Ans: Not too many, but there are good examples. The chairman of V Guard Group Mr Koch Ouseph Chittilapilli  is running a Trust and it is working all over Kerala and it works very efficiently.

  • Mr Ranjith Kavumkara(Faculty)

Qus: Is there any mechanism to ensure justice in Organ Transplantation?

Ans: It is mentioned under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act 1994. But most often, justice is being restricted in main stream hospitals with the effective decisions and criteria d102_3691esigned by the Board of Doctors.Que: Are there any researches regarding ethical issues done so far?

Ans: Not too much. Studies are going on in some areas.


Discussion part has been handled by Ms Sukanya Vijayan and the open discussions and clarifications helped the presenters and the audience to know detailed description on the topic. The critical points stressed are mentioned below:

  • Ms Arathy mentioned her concern about the cost of organ transplantation and added that if relatives are ready to be the donors, then the massive expense can be reduced to a certain level. She also congratulated both of them for their presentation.
  • Ms Parvathy had an opinion that on this particular relevant issue more discussions and focus on commercialization is needed. There is also a need to develop more strategies on ensuring anti rejection drugs to the needy so as to ensure justice in the process.
  • Ms Lekshmi Vimala mentioned that the act should be taken into prior focus. She said that it may be good to know more about the act to see if it ensures justice. She had a suggestion that there should be specified criteria for organ transplantation.
  • Ms Nandana had an opinion that experienced expert trainers should be available to the practitioners and the clients for the proper training and guidance in the procedures involved.
  • Ms Dhanya and Mr Prageesh mentioned that adding recent findings and video clippings about the particular issue would have been more helpful to understand the present scenario.
  •  Vishnu .K. Santhosh mentioned about the relevance of testing methods and its unavailability in medical colleges which creates great troubles to the beneficiaries.
  • Mr. Joby.T. Lal quoted the recent scenarios in the state and the chain of organ transplantation especially the kidney transplantation in Kerala under the leadership of Mr.Kochousepp Chittilapally, the chairman of V-Guard group. The agency has been working for more than last three years and it stands as a helping hand for the affected persons in the grass root level. Supriya and Jasmine appreciated the team effort and the simple language of presentation.
  • Ms. Jasmine pointed out the illegal activities by doctors and other mafia gangs in the arena who crucify the poor in the name of money. She asked if there exists any law or act for combating these illegal acts similar to the laws that exists regarding female foeticide.
  • Mr Ranjith Kavumkara, the lecturer, Dept. of Social Work, pointed out different aspects, views and concerns about the transplant process and mentioned about film clippings and documentaries that he had viewed which resembles the terrible factors especially the injustice existing in the society and the social dynamics behind this issue.
  • Mr Kochu Krishna Kurup, lecturer, Dept. of Social Work, shared the broad aspects of social stigma existing in the present scenario and mentioned an incident that he had experienced where social stigma plays the relevant role and advised to present the facts with much clarity.

The Seminar was concluded by Dr Renjith R Pillai and he commented that the active participation of the audience helped in improving the depth of the relevant topic.

He said that we, professional social workers should think in the perspective of community and contextualize the issues to Indian scenario. There is also need for research evidences. He also pointed out that the dead beliefs and rituals existing in community i.e. the religious aspects of the particular issue are among the main issues associated with transplantation process. He also commented that the overall presentation was good and up to the mark.

Report by: Joby T Lal

Edited by: Parvathy V



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