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Keywords: OCI, Near relative, Organ donation, Liver failure, Transplant

In a groundbreaking decision, the Supreme Court of India has granted permission for the liver donation to a three-year-old Indian-American boy by his distant cousin. The child, an overseas citizen of India (OCI) cardholder, urgently requires a liver transplant due to decompensated biliary cirrhosis (DBC), a medical condition resulting from liver failure.

The court, in its ruling, acknowledged that the case was not suitable for absolute adherence to legal requirements and emphasized the priority of saving the child’s life. The decision is specific to this case and is not intended to set a precedent for future organ transplant cases.

The child’s parents were deemed unfit for organ donation, prompting the distant cousin to volunteer. However, Section 9 of the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act (THOTA) posed a challenge to the liver donation. This section prohibits transplants involving a foreign recipient and a donor who is not a “near relative.” The term “near relative” typically includes spouses, children, parents, siblings, and other close family members, excluding cousins.

Senior advocate Gopal Sankarnarayanan and lawyer Neha Rathi represented the petitioners—the recipient child and the donor cousin. The court took note of their submissions and decided to prioritize the immediate necessity of the liver transplant over strict adherence to legal provisions.

On November 9, the bench clarified its stance, stating, “In our opinion, the instant case would not be an appropriate case to consider the same in detail,” referring to the relevant provisions in THOTA and the Citizenship Act.

Recognizing the urgency of the situation and the deteriorating health of the child, the court directed the involved parties to follow the legal process while exempting the parents from donation. The court expressed satisfaction with the legitimacy of the case, emphasizing that the choice before the court was between adhering strictly to legal requirements or saving the life of the three-year-old petitioner.

This decision by the Supreme Court marks a significant development in organ transplantation regulations, highlighting the court’s willingness to consider exceptional cases based on the immediate need to save a life.

Ptcnews.tv , https://www.ptcnews.tv/world-news/supreme-court-helps-us-child-allows-indian-cousin-to-donate-liver-734339#google_vignette

Last visited on 14.11.23

 Indiatoday.in, https://www.indiatoday.in/law/story/supreme-court-saves-us-kid-life-permits-distant-indian-cousin-to-donate-liver-2462875-2023-11-15

Livelaw.in , https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/supreme-court-allows-liver-donation-cousin-overseas-indian-citizen-transplantation-of-human-organs-and-tissues-act-242044

Written by : shalmali ugare., College : DES navalmal Firodia law college, pune., Sem: 3rd intern under legal vidhiya.

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