Kerala HC permits teen girl to donate portion of her liver to ailing father

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Kerala High Court | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Kochi: Devananda, a minor girl from Thrissur district, can now go ahead with her mission to save her ailing father's life by donating a portion of her liver following a green signal given by the Kerala High Court.

The high court has allowed the 17-year-old's plea seeking exemption in her age to be a donor as prescribed under Rule 18 of the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules, 2014.

"It is heartening to note that the unrelenting fight put up by Devananda has finally succeeded. I applaud the petitioner's fight to save her father's life. Blessed are parents who have children like Devananda," Justice V G Arun said in his order dated December 20, hailing the girl's compassion towards her father.

Her father Pratheesh P G is suffering from Decompensated Chronic Liver Disease with Hepatocellular Carcinoma, a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

For Devananda, the only means to save the life of her father is to replace the damaged liver through transplantation surgery.

From among the near relatives of the patient, only his daughter's liver was found to be matching.

She was more than willing to donate her organ to save her father's life but her predicament was that she was only 17 and the provisions of the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994 and the Rules thereunder, do not permit organ donation by a minor.

In her plea, she had also sought direction to the hospital authority to perform their medical obligations under Rule 18 of the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Rules, 2014 and other provisions of the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994, by treating her as an adult if she is medically fit to be a donor.

"The writ petition is disposed of permitting the petitioner to donate a portion of her liver for conducting her father's transplantation surgery, subject to the other requirements of the Act and the Rules," the court said in the order.

The court gave the judgement, considering a report submitted by an expert committee constituted by the Kerala State Organ Tissue Transplant Organisation (K-SOTTO), which was directed by it to study Devananda's case.

Initially, the court had passed an interim order on November 23, 2022 directing the K-SOTTO to hear the petitioner, and arrive at a decision as stipulated in Rule 5(3)(g).

In accordance with the direction, the K-SOTTO appointed the Expert Committee consisting of three specialist doctors to conduct a detailed evaluation of the case after examining the medical reports of the patient and after discussion with the treating doctor.

After detailed evaluation, the Expert Committee, which was initially reluctant, submitted a report allowing Devananda's plea subject to the final order of the high court.

The committee relied on the facts that there were no other options other than a transplantation and the donor is fully aware of the consequences of her decision to donate a portion of her liver out of compassion to her father and she has taken the decision with her free will and without any coercion or compulsion.

In the order, the high court also placed on record its appreciation for the prompt manner in which the appropriate authority responded to the directions issued by the court.

Reacting to the judgement, state Health Minister Veena George also hailed her determination.

"Devananda is becoming a part of history in the organ donation process," the minister said in a statement.


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