You Can ‘Pledge to be an Organ Donor’ using the Driving License in India
Organ transplants cannot occur without the generosity of organ donors be it living or deceased donors. One can elect to be a donor after death by either carrying an organ donor card and keeping the near relatives informed or pledge through another instrument like the driving license. This method is popular and an important tool not only to spread the message, but also to ease the consent process when a person is pronounced dead. Countries such as USA, UK, Australia, Spain, Japan and New Zealand have used this method very effectively. In some of these countries the driver donor registry becomes the first point of reference when a person is pronounced dead in a hospital before the relatives are approached for consent.
For the last 12 years, MOHAN has conducted innumerable campaigns to push this initiative forward. Way back in 2006-07 it did a drive and collected 5,000 signatures and forwarded it to the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and on 20th September 2009 handed it over to the then transport commissioner at a public function (1). In 2010, it sent this as one of the many recommendations to the Rajya Sabha standing committee that was looking at the various inclusions in the new transplant law. Other NGOs like ‘Gift Your Organ’ from Bangalore have also pushed for this initiative and were using stickers on the driving license in Bangalore to denote that a person wished to donate his/her organs(2). They have apparently had 62,000 organ pledges on the driving license in Bangalore (3).
Ms. Bhavna Jagwani from MOHAN Foundation -Jaipur Citizen Forum in a personal interview last year with the Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Mr. Nitin Gadkari appealed for the organ donation clause to be included on the driving license and she was assured that this would be taken up soon and executed. Meanwhile the Ministry of Health officials and the National Organ & Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO) too appealed to various ministries. All these efforts have at last culminated into this clause now being included in the Indian Driving License.
The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has amended the Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989 and on 20th March 2018 included the option of Organ and Tissue donation in the application (Form 2) as well as in the driving license - Form 6 & Form 7 (4).
Currently 997 RTOs in the country issue over 1.15 crore fresh or renewed driving licences every year. A rough calculation shows that on an average, 40 licenses are issued by each RTO on any working day. The challenge is likely to be to make the clause visible and have a mechanism for clarifying doubts.
Otherwise routinely the clerk may just mark ‘No’ in front of the clause without even informing the potential candidate seeking the license. The driver donor registry can become functional in India once sufficient pledges have been received.
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- Keywords: Organ Donor pledge, driving license, driving donor registry