As families fail to fulfill body donors’ pledge, govt to step in by amending law

Last year acclaimed author Sunil Gangopadhyay's wife, Swati, refused to donate her husband's body to Calcutta Medical College despite the pledge made by the author during his lifetime to donate his body for the study of medical students. She was not the only one to do so. There have been many instances where the family has cremated the body despite the pledge made by the deceased to donate his/her body.

With the number of such cases rising and the growing scarcity of donor bodies in medical colleges for the students to learn about Anatomy, the government has decided to be more strict and amend the Transplantation of Human Organ Act, 2011 by making it mandatory for the relatives of the body donor to sign a bond and fulfill the commitment.

Monoj Chowdhury, Special Secretary (Health, said: "There will be a clause in the amended Act which will make it mandatory for the relatives of the donor to sign a bond along with the donor so that after the donor's death they could not shy away from giving the body."

According to Health Department, around 700 people pledged their body in the last two years, but only 300 people have donated their bodies with their families's consent. Others failed to donate their bodies as their family and relatives did not want their bodies to be donated.

The decision of the government was, however, criticised by Ganadarpan, an NGO that works in the field of body donation and promotion of medical science. The outfit said it was impossible to take the body from the families who feel that they do not want to donate the body of their loved ones. Brajo Roy, director of Ganadarpan, said the government cannot infringe on individuals' rights. "We have seen various examples where in the past too one donor's wife has given in writing that they are accepting to donate the body but after her husband's death she did not want the body to be donated."

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