Russia Mulls Allowing Children to Become Organ Donors

Moscow, April 2 (RIA Novosti/RAPSI) – A bill submitted by the Russian Healthcare Ministry proposes to allow children to become organ donors with the approval of their parents in an effort to save the lives of other sick children, a ministry official told RIA Novosti.

The law will forbid pressuring parents into donating their children’s organs following their death, ensuring the procedure would be completely voluntary, said Lyalya Gabbasova, an aide to the Healthcare Minister.

“An organ can be legally removed for donation after a patient is declared brain dead, which gives the relatives some time to make the decision to donate,” she said. “It should be noted that children can become deceased donors only if they are over a year old.”

Gabbasova mentioned that in the previous years there were cases when the Healthcare Ministry sent Russian children abroad for transplants.

The massive public interest into the story of three-year-old Vera Smolnikova from Siberia intiated the reform. In May 2011 she underwent a heart transplant in an Italian clinic after Russian president Vladimir Putin and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi personally intervened on her behalf to make the surgery happen. A year later Putin met Vera personally.

“Other countries are ready to share such priceless material as organs with us on a humanitarian basis, but in general organ donation by children is not developing very actively because it is always connected with ethical issues,” Gabbasova said.

She added that the bill on organ donation and transplantation had been forwarded to the government and, if approved by parliament, will become effective on July 1, 2015.

The bill bans the transplantation of organs from unidentified deceased donors and gives the relatives two hours to make a donation decision.

“Without the documented consent of the deceased, the relatives will have two hours to think it over, make a phone call and refuse organ donation,”  said Gabbasova.

She added that the bill suggests creating a registration procedure. One of the lists will contain information on those who gave or denied consent for organ donation. The other list will contain the names of actual donors and recipients as well as patients in need of a transplant. 

Under the existing laws, if a person did not refuse to donate his organs, they might be used for transplantation after his death.

The Healthcare Ministry drafted the bill based on the experience of the United States, France, Spain and Italy, where organ and tissue donation are a routine procedure. The Russian ministry’s goal is to improve the opportunity for donation in Russia where about 1,300 transplants are made every year, or 3.5 per one million people.


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