The Human Organ Transplantation Act came into officially force in Bangladesh on April 13, 1999, allowing organ donations from both living and brain-dead donors. The Act was amended by the Parliament on January 8, 2018, with the changes coming into effect shortly afterwards on January 28. The Act was revised to extend a living donor pool from close relatives (e.g., parents, adult sons and daughters, adult brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts from both the paternal and maternal sides, and spouses) to include certain other relatives such as grandparents, grandchildren, and first cousins (Section 2:4). The Act was also revised to allow individuals to prioritize family members in receiving their organs after their death (Section 7c:3). The aim of this paper is not to carry out an ethical analysis of the Act as a whole but only to focus on aspects relating to priority access for family members to organs. Despite Islam encouraging Muslims to be sympathetic, and to save the life of any member of humankind (Quran 5:32), saving the life of a relative through organ donation is even more highly valued. The collective and extended structure of the family impacts on the provisions of the Act that only allows Bangladeshis to legally donate their organs to save the lives of relatives and allows individuals to prioritize family members. Recent progress in the practice of organ transplantation raises a number of ethical dilemmas around the allocation of available organs in the context of organ scarcity. A key purpose of introducing incentive into the system of organ allocation is to increase the number of donations from living relatives and initiation of vital organ donations from brain-dead donors. However, allocation criteria based on a living organ donation incentive system would appear to be unethical because there is no provision in the Act with regard to financial compensation for a distant relative donor’s post-operative care in the absence of healthcare coverage. Receiving organs from a distant relative without giving financial compensation for post-operative care places them in a grave health condition and violates the biomedical principle of non-maleficence. An incentive system around brain-dead donors would appear to be ethical as the amended Act allows individuals to prioritize relatives in receiving their organs after death. This provision is intended to initiate the transplantation of vital organs (e.g., kidney, liver, heart, pancreas, bone marrow) from brain-dead donors as families might bear the cost of keeping the organs alive for transplantation. Regular reassessment of the impact of the Act is necessary to maximize the donation rate of transplantable organs using ethical means.
Asian Bioethics Review – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 10, 2021
Keywords: Organ transplantation; Brain death; Living donation; Organ allocation; Bangladesh