One of the miracles of modern medicine is the ability of a person to donate his or her healthy organ to another person in need of it. While such donations give the receiver a fresh lease of life, the donor can also lead a normal life but with an organ missing (some organs like the liver regenerate allowing the donor a normal life). However, when the government found that many poor people were being exploited and forced to donate an organ for pecuniary reasons, it sought to curb this malpractice by allowing only spouses or blood relatives to be donors. If there is a mismatch, they can cross-donate: donating to strangers while their loved ones receive an organ from the strangers’ relatives.
The problem arises when the bureaucracy clings to archaic rules, refusing to march with the changing times. The case where a Kenyan woman cannot receive a kidney from a Rajasthani simply because ‘there is no precedent’ is shocking. International donation is only possible now, when a large number of foreigners flock to India for medical treatment. By allowing it, bureaucrats in Rajasthan could have created a precedent for others to follow.
Laws and rules cannot be static. As medicine, technology and society progress, rules made in one era will have to be remade for another to reflect the changed scenario. This applies not just to organ donation but also to surrogacy. We need laws to prevent exploitation of the poor, but not to make organ donations impossible.