(Apr. 15, 2009) The Cabinet of Nepal recently approved a bill to broaden the scope of potential kidney donors. The current Human Organ Transplant Act 1998, in order to control open trading in kidneys, limits potential donors to immediate relatives. Even though the Act was adopted in 1998, Nepal reportedly only undertook kidney transplantations in August 2008. According to Ministry of Health (MOH) spokesperson Dr. Yasobardhan Pradhan, in neighboring India, no limitations are placed on kidney donors, but that spawned illegal trade in the organ. For Nepal, he stated, “[i]t was felt here that some limitations are necessary, but the 1998 bill placed severe limitations” that resulted in a large number of patients with renal failure remaining unable to receive a donated organ even though there were kidney donors. (Cabinet Okays Kidney Transplant Act, eKANTIPUR.COM, Mar. 27, 2009, available at http://www.ekantipur.com/capsule.php?&nid=186498.) That was why the proposal was made to change the Act, he added, to meet demand by extending the donor limits.
Proposed changes to the Act are based on a report submitted to the MOH by the government-formed Human Organ Transplant Coordination Committee. Under the draft legislation, stepmothers, maternal uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, and cousins could also donate their kidneys to their relatives.
The country's National Kidney Center estimates that there are over 2.7 million Nepalis suffering from kidney failure. Nepalese patients used to go to India for transplants, at a minimum cost of Rs1 million (about US$12,700). After the two government-run hospitals in Nepal began to perform the operation, according to officials, the cost was cut to about Rs300,000. (Id.)