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The Cabinet on Monday approved the draft law, ‘Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 2017’, aiming to check the illegal trade of human organs keeping a provision for three years of rigorous imprisonment or Tk 10 lakh fine or both for violation of the law.

The approval came from the regular weekly meeting of the Cabinet held at the Cabinet Division of the Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

Additional secretary M Ashraf Shamim briefed reporters after the meeting.

Without the government approval, Shamim said, no hospital can conduct human organ transplantation in the country while the public hospitals having specialised units in this regard can do the job without taking any approval.

He also said private hospitals have to apply to the authorities concerned to do the job within 60 days of enactment of the law.

As per the proposed law, there will be a medical board in every hospital for deciding the transplantation matter and a National Cadaveric Committee to oversee the human organs transplantation in the country.

Organ donation is the donation of biological tissue or an organ of the human body, from a living or dead person to a living recipient who needs a transplantation.

In the name of organ donation, illegal trade of organs has reportedly been going on in the country for over a decade.

Wealthy recipients and brokers trick the poor and illiterate people into selling their organs by making false promises like high prices and jobs and travelling to foreign countries.

The existing law stipulates imprisonment for three to seven years, Tk 3 lakh as fine or both for violating the law.

Ashraf Shamim said the law is aimed at improving healthcare services of the country by keeping consistency with advancement of medical science.

He said the draft law has been formulated making the existing law of 1999 more time-befitting one, and once the law is implemented it would be able to check trafficking of human organs and their illegal trades.

Besides, the patients willing to transplant organs might not need to go abroad for the transplantation of human organs.

Shamim said the draft law defines close relationship as the relatives like parents, children, brothers and sisters, husband and wives as well as blood-related grandparents, grandchildren, cousins, maternal and paternal uncles, and aunts.

According to the proposed law, any organ to be transplantable to the human body, including kidney, liver, bone, eye, heart, lung and tissue could be transplanted after their collection from human bodies having heart-beats or in active with life support for transplantation purpose.

Ashraf Shamim said any doctor convicted under the law will lose his or her registration with Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council.

He said a three-member coordination committee will be formed in every hospital comprising a neurologist, an anaesthesiologist and a medicine or critical medicine specialist physician and they will be professors or at least associate professors.

As per the new proposed law, a National Cadaveric Committee will be constituted with Vice Chancellor of the BSMMU as its Chairman to oversee the human organs transplantation, visit transplantation activities as well as to advise the government regarding human organ transplantation.

Besides, there will be a four member certification board headed by a Director of the Health Directorate and no organ transplantation will be allowed in any hospital of the country without certification of the board.

The Additional Secretary said there will also be a three-member medical board in every hospital for deciding the transplantation of the organs with a professor of the Department of Surgery as its chief.

The board could also coopt one or more such expertise physicians as its members if necessary, he added.

About the provisions of punishment, Shamim said, up to two years of rigorous imprisonment or fine of taka up to five lakh or both the punishments would be given to anyone who will give false information on relationship between donors and recipients, encourage or provoke anybody to give such information.

Anyone violating other provisions of the new draft law could be jailed for a maximum of three year term or be penalised with the highest fine of Tk 10 lakh or both the punishments.

Besides, for violation of the law by any hospital or clinic, their owner, director and manager or whatever designation they belong to will be considered as the offenders unless they can prove that the crimes are committed beyond their knowledge.

For such offences, the organ transplantation permission of the concerned hospital or clinic would be cancelled along with imposition of fine.

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