Act regulating tissue donation & transplant to be implemented soon

Regulating tissue donation and transplant will soon become a reality with the state set to adopt the centre’s amended Transplantation of Human Organ and Tissue Act 2011 and its consequent rules of 2013.

While organ transplants are life-saving surgeries, tissue transplants improve quality of life by re-correcting physical disability. The process of transplanting tissue from the donor to the recipient is called ‘allograft’.

Currently, Mumbai has very few dedicated tissue banks and they work in a scattered unregulated way, says a senior official at the Directorate of Health Services (DHS). With the implementation of the Act, the state health department aims to streamline the procedure on the lines of cadaver donation.

“Till now, hospitals used tissues as per their requirement. In a month from now, the state will adopt the centre’s Act after which hospitals doing tissue transplant will have to get registered with the DHS and a wait list of patients will be created,” says Dr Kempi Patil, Assistant Director at DHS.

Hospitals interested in conducting tissue transplant will have to undergo inspection by DHS officials, and those registered will have to report cadaver deaths and counsel deceased patients’ family to donate tissue along with organs.

Dr Astrid Lobo from the Tata Memorial Hospital’s (TMH) tissue bank, the first to be established in Mumbai for amnion, chorion and bone, says: “Until now, the process of screening donors has been inadequate. India started off tissue banking in bone some 30 years after the US. It was like cottage industry with every specialist dealing in one particular tissue. But while the demand is a lot, we do not get enough donors.”

Data gathered from TMH’s tissue bank suggests that the number of tissue donors has grown at snail’s pace — from 110 in 2001 to 2,399 in 2013 — and total tissues used for transplant were 8,660 in 2013 from 747 in 2001. Earlier, certain tissues were separately dealt in Bombay Anatomy Act, 1949, Bombay Corneal Grafting Act, 1957, and Ear Drums and Ear Bones Act, 1982. Now all tissues, such as skin, ear bone, cornea, bone and ear drums will be clubbed under the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act.

‘India needs awareness on tissue banking’

Scott A Brubaker, chief executive officer of the only accreditation centre for tissue banking across the globe, American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB), Virginia, while speaking on the sidelines of a session at the Indian Science Congress, told The Indian Express, “In India, awareness of tissue banking needs to be raised. If there are no donors, how will banks come up? Till now, we have received no request for accreditation from any Indian tissue bank.” The AATB’s accreditation is a certification for quality tissue handling.