Amidst all the hue and cry surrounding the L.H. Hinranandani Hospital kidney transplant issue, ironies loom large.

Irony no:1- While five doctors of the hospital including the CEO, Dr. Sujit Chatterjee were behind bars, others more entwined in the issue-including the donor, donee and the medcial social worker were out on bail.

Irony no:2- This one takes a bit of explaining. But bear with us. It becomes darkly amusing:

The offences for which the doctors were arrested came under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code as well as the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994 sections 12 and 21. Section 12 states that a registered medical practitioner shall not undertake the removal or transplantation of a human organ unless s/he has explained all possible effects, complications and hazards. Section 21 relates to an act which has been committed by a company and is proved that it’s committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company.

The custody of the doctors were sought by the police on August 9, on four main points:

  • They were negligent in that they failed to scrutinize the papers
  • To find if they were involved in kidney transplant procedures at other hospitals too
  • If more than the sum of Rs.8 lakh was paid, and if yes, to whom
  • To find out the doctors’ motive since it was a “very serious offence”

Now, the irony here is to be found in that last said-about what the doctors did being a “very serious offence.” But isn’t that something that’s to be decided after a trial?

The verification of donor/donee isn’t the doctor’s responsibility

The silver lining in all this was that all the five doctors were granted bail by a metropolitan magistrate in Mumbai.
As related by the doctors’ lawyer to the media, the police has said that the doctors weren’t involved with any of the financial dealings.Also, it’s been shown that none of the doctors had actually dealt with the documents for screening of the donor and recipient.

Also, the fact that the doctors were of good repute and high societal standing stood them in good stead. One of the doctors, Dr Mukesh Shah is a urologist who has handled many cadaver organ donation cases, often without charging anything.

It is, in fact, the duty of the authorization committee to properly verify the donor and donee after interviewing. It’s not the responsibility of the doctors whose duty it is only to operate.

How will it affect the number of transplants in the country?

While the news media is sensationalizing such issues- which doesn’t help change the wrong perception about doctors the public has, the larger question is how it can only help reduce the number of organ transplants that happen in the country. An estimate has it that in the case of kidneys alone, there are about 2 lakh people who require the organ every single year. Out of this, only about 3% demand is actually met. That’s obviously a dismal figure.

By making it harder for the doctors to practice their trade, that number only stands to fall.

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