Indian Transplant Newsletter. Vol.20 Issue No.63. July 2021 - October 2021
Organ donation clause in driver's license – Rajasthan's experience
The recent introduction of the organ donation clause in the driver's license in India enables an individual to make their consent on organ donation known. The Central Motor Vehicles (Third Amendment) Rules, 2018 has included the choice for an individual to pledge their organs while applying for the driving license. The Union Ministry has added a column in the first learner's application form for Driver's license about Organ Donation.
In this interview with Mr. Mahendra Soni, IAS, Commissioner, Transport Department Rajasthan, let's learn what extra steps did the state of Rajasthan took in order to make this initiative more effective and meaningful and what more can be done in the future.
What additional steps did your state department take when the Union Ministry of Road Transport issued an advisory asking all Regional Transport Offices (RTO) across the country to add a column in the application form for driving license in April 2018?
The central government’s decision to incorporate the provision to include the option of organ donation in the Driving License was indeed a very welcome step. However, the option to consent or refuse was not compulsory in nature and an applicant could complete the form even if they had not responded to the organ donation column. As a result, many people were skipping this action thereby defeating the very purpose of the clause.
The Rajasthan Transport Department requested that this be made compulsory for an applicant to choose a 'Yes' or a 'No' for organ donation in order to complete the form. Without responding to this section, the application will not be accepted into the software. To skip the question is no more an option.
I feel this has encouraged people to give greater thought to the question and think a bit more deliberately about organ donation.
The software for driver's license services, Sarathi, is a uniform standardized software across the country. Can the states make any such changes at their level?
Yes, Sarathi is a pan India software but the Centre is kind enough to accommodate some changes at state level. Each state has its own requirements and some issues are very state specific, so certain changes with the Centre's permission are allowed at the state level.
However, the clause on the learners 'Driving License' is the same in all states.
Where all has the option for organ donation been given? The option to express the willingness to be an organ donor is not only while applying for a new driving license. It is also available while applying for a learner’s license, a permanent driving licence, while applying for an address change, while applying for adding more vehicles to one’s existing licence (for e.g. from a two wheeler to a four wheeler) and other such services.
For those who have a licence issued prior to this feature can also pledge to become organ donors when they go for a renewal of license or for updation of details on the document.
What has been the impact of these changes?
The impact has been very encouraging. Since September 2020, close to 2,75,000 people in Rajasthan have expressed a consent for organ donation while applying for any of these services. I feel that it is a significant number and the move will serve as a substantial step towards creating awareness and a discussion on organ donation.
How is a person's consent recorded on the licence?
The licence will bear an 'organ donor' logo along with a red heart in Rajasthan state issued licenses. The logo implies that the person has pledged his/her organs and in case of any mishap, the doctors can retrieve his/her organs after due consent from the family.
In other countries with this provision, the consent is recorded in a central registry that can be accessed at the time of accident or death of the applicant to see if they had consented to organ donation or not. This allows for the authorities to initiate the conversation with the family members. Are we looking at something on these lines in India?
I completely agree with you and if, in the long run, we are not able to dovetail the two i.e. individual consent with organ requirement, the entire exercise will be futile. There is absolutely no doubt that just recording the willingness to be a donor is not enough, forward linkages have to be worked out.
I feel that central guidelines on this would facilitate the process. Fine tuning and working out details can be done at the state level. It would help if Ministry of Road Transport and Highways could issue some enabling guidelines on this. Having said that, I am happy to take the initiative and look at this post Diwali.
What are your personal views on organ donation?
As an individual, I feel very strongly about this cause. I feel that nothing matches this kind of 'giving' – either by way of donating oneself or by enabling others to become donors.
The queue of those waiting to get a lifesaving organ is very long, availability of organs is a real issue. One must work with one's full might to make organ donation a reality in our country.
I am not a technical person but I have learned that 9 lives can be saved with a single donation. What could be more powerful than this act? It is a matchless action, the greatest gift of all. Is there anything else you would like to convey to our readers?The credit should go where it is due. If it was not for the efforts of MFJCF (MOHAN Foundation Jaipur Citizen Forum), the Transport Department would not have thought of these changes. It is the people on the ground who understand these issues better. Ms. Bhavna Jagwani and Mr. Rajiv Arora approached the department and insisted that these changes are crucial to make the Centre's ruling more effective and it is the synergy of MFJCF and The department that has resulted in these changes.
Transport Commissioner, Rajasthan Batch 2008. Previous assignments – Collector Jalore, Deputy Secretary to Chief Minister, Rajasthan