The Kerala High Court recently allowed a 17-year-old girl to donate a portion of her liver to her ailing father.

The Bench of Justice V.G. Arun, hailing the girl's fight for his ailing father said that "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."

In this case, the plea was moved, by a 17-year-old girl Devananda and exemption was sought in her age to be a donor as provisions of the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 2014, and Rules thereunder, do not permit organ donation by a minor.

The girl's father was suffering from Decompensated Chronic Liver Disease with Hepatocellular Carcinoma, a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and the only means to save the life of her father was to replace the damaged liver through transplantation surgery.

Initially, the High Court directed the Appropriate Authority to appoint an Expert Committee consisting of three specialist doctors to conduct a detailed evaluation of the case after examining the medical reports of the patient.

The Appropriate authority rejected the petitioner's request to donate her liver and concluded that as the patient does not qualify for a liver transplant as a therapeutic option, the question of donating a portion of the petitioner's liver did not arise.

Advocate P.R. Shaji appeared for the petitioner and contended that the rejection of the petitioner's request by the Appropriate Authority was patently illegal, as the decision was arrived at without considering the petitioner's capacity to donate. It was also submitted that in the opinion of another set of experts at the Rajagiri Health Care and Education Trust, the only method available to save the patient's life was to undergo living donor liver transplantation.

Government pleader P.S. Appu contended that the Act prohibits organ donation by minors and Rule 5(3)(g) provides an exemption only under exceptional circumstances and it was for the Appropriate Authority to decide whether exceptional circumstances existed or not.

The Court considering the two different expert opinions and the consequence of rejecting the petitioner's request for permission for organ donation directed the appropriate authority to seek a further opinion from the Expert Committee after taking into account the opinion of Rajagiri Health Care Trust.

The Expert Committee, which was previously reluctant, submitted a report and allowed the petitioner to donate her liver subject to the final order of the High Court. The committee said that "there was no other option other than a transplantation and the donor was fully aware of the consequences of her decision to donate a portion of her liver out of compassion to her father and that she has taken the decision with her free will and without any coercion or compulsion."

Accordingly, the Court held that the Petitioner is permitted to donate a portion of his liver to her father and disposed of the Petition.

Cause Title- Devananda P.P. v. Department of Health and Family Welfare

Click here to read/download the Judgment