The Union Health Ministry has removed the age limit of 65 for getting an organ from a donor who has died, and rules are being changed so that older people can sign up for waiting lists.
Officials said Thursday that younger people will still get priority, but people over 65 won’t be completely shut out of the process.
“There was no age limit for living donor transplants, in which family members donate organs like kidneys and livers. However, NOTTO rules said that people over the age of 65 couldn’t sign up to get organs from dead donors” (National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation). “This requirement has been taken away,” a senior Health Ministry official said.
The official said that 65 is not very old right now, and that older people should have the chance to get an organ transplant.
Another official said, “Obviously, preference will be given to younger people who are likely to be healthier and have more years of life left.”
Nearly 17.8% of all transplants in the country in 2022 were done with organs from people who had died.
Over the years, there have been more transplants. The number of organ transplants from people who had died went from 837 in 2013 to 2,765 in 2022. According to data shared by the government, the number of organ transplants, from both dead and living donors, will rise from 4,990 in 2013 to 15,561 in 2022.
India has the third most transplants of any country in the world. About 1.5 to 2 lakh people need a kidney transplant every year. In 2022, only about 10,000 people got one. Less than 3% of the 80,000 people who needed a liver transplant in 2022 actually got one. And, according to the data, only 250 of the 10,000 people who needed a heart transplant in 2022 got one.
Key for kids this age
The move is important because a study shows that more than 40% of people who need kidney transplants around the world are over the age of 65.
The Health Ministry has also gotten rid of the requirement to live in the country and the fee for registering in order to make organ transplants easier to get.
“People who need transplants can go to any hospital in any state and sign up to get an organ from a person who has died,” the official said.
The official said that some states only registered people from their own state or gave priority to people from their own state when giving out organs. Organs that are taken from a person in one state are first shared with other hospitals in the same state. If there is still no match, the organ is shared with hospitals across the country.
“The states want to keep their organs for themselves, but they have been told not to be so picky,” the official said.
Along with changing the criteria, states have also been told to stop charging people to get on a list for an organ. States like Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat, and Telangana charge between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 to register organ recipients. “We need to get rid of barriers to transplants and get the word out across the country,” said another official.