Sikh girl pledging to donate kidney to Muslim friend triggers organ transplant debate

A rare case involving a Sikh girl from Udhampur pledging to donate a kidney to save life of her friend, a Muslim girl from Rajouri, has given rise to debate over organ donation and the law governing it in J&K.

Manjot Singh Kohli, the prospective donor has been complaining of delay by authorities at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) to carry out the procedure for saving life of Samreen Akhtar.

While on one hand, Manjot argued that being a major, she is entitled to take a decision on her own regarding donation of an organ, citing the law governing organ donation, authorities at SKIMS are delaying go-ahead to transplantation surgery citing “lack of parental consent” as the cause.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, Manjot said she had communicated her decision to SKIMS kidney transplant unit in May 2018 but the surgery was not carried out “despite clearance from authorization committee”.

Authorization committee comprises of seven members and is mandated to examine and clear cases of organ donation. Manjot said SKIMS had “no reason” to hold the surgery back as she was an adult and had completed all documentation required to qualify as a donor. “But, on one pretext or other, they (SKIMS) have been dodging us for all these months, putting life of Samreen at risk” she said.

However, SKIMS administration said no member of donor’s family has been presented at the Institute or before the committee. “This has put us in a dilemma. The father of the donor has communicated to us that he is against the decision of his daughter,” director SKIMS, Prof Omar Javed Shah said.

He added: “Manjot’s father had also published a notice in a Jammu based newspaper alleging that his daughter was being misguided and has appealed SKIMS not to carry out transplantation surgery.”

The director said given “circumstances” and “sensitive and rare nature” of the case, the Institute has referred the case again to authorization committee for examination. “Hopefully, the committee would meet this week and take call on the case,” said Dr Shah.

Manjot’s father, Gurdeep Singh Kohli claimed that he came to know about the case “only a month ago” and that his daughter was “misled”.

After the delay by SKIMS, Manjot has approached lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat to help her “save a human life”. Rajawat said she understood the perspective of Manjot’s father but law permitted Manjot to exercise her choice.

“As a parent I understand his (Manjot’s father’s) feelings but as a lawyer, I know there is no law that stops Manjot from exercising her choice being an adult,” she said.

The lawyer said Manjot would wait for the decision of authorization committee. “We would decide the future course of action after that,” she said.

The authorization committee for organ transplants has director SKIMS as chairman and the members include director health services Kashmir, principal Government Medical College Srinagar, heads of departments of surgery, medicine and immunology of SKIMS and law officer of the institute.

According to organ transplantation Act of J&K, an organ can be donated by people related to the recipient – father, mother, brother, sister; or related as husband or wife.

In addition, an altruist, person not related to the recipient can also donate an organ. All cases of organ transplant, no matter where it takes place, need to be cleared by authorization committee of the state of domicile.

Head, department of urology and kidney transplant unit at SKIMS, Dr Saleem Wani said his team was ready to do the transplant provided “the issues are put to rest.”

“As soon as we get a clear path, we would do it,” he stated.

-GK WEB DESK-

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