PANJIM: The High Court of Bombay at Goa has directed the State and the Central governments to set up the State Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (SOTTO) in Goa within six months. The Bench comprising Justice R M Borde and Justice P K Chavan also asked the authorities to make available necessary cross-matching facilities.
The directions came in response to a petition by Mango Foundation seeking to direct the State and Central governments to notify Goa Medical College as SOTTO with criteria-based transparent waiting lists for organs and linking it to the Regional and State Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (ROTTO), Western Region and National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO). It also sought designated organ and tissue retrieval teams in each district, a dedicated website linked to the websites of ROTTO and NOTTO for organ procurement, sharing and transplantation and most importantly registering patients.
During an hour long hearing on Thursday, Advocate Wilbur Menezes, representing Mango Foundation, mentioned to the court that the State government had, albeit late, sent the proposal for setting up of the SOTTO to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on January 1, 2018 while the Union had been sitting on the proposal till date.
He brought to the notice of the Court that absence of such an organisation is resulting in patients or prospective recipients from Goa losing out on organs and organs were being allocated directly to patients on the list maintained by ROTTO, Mumbai. All this, he said, meant that no cadaveric transplants (brain dead transplants) were being conducted in Goa.
Advocate General Dattaprasad Lawande submitted to the court that its proposal was pending before the Union Ministry and the State had done everything to set up SOTTO.
After the hearing, the Bench issued directions to the State and the Union Ministry of Health to immediately set up SOTTO within six months as per the Transplantation of Human Organ and Tissues Rules, 2014. Menezes thereafter requested the Court keep the matter open given the gravity of the subject so that the respondents can file their compliance report within six months.
This is said to be the first time in the country that a High Court has issued directions to the Union and State to set up a SOTTO.
Speaking to Herald, Menezes said, “We feel tremendously proud that the outcome of this petition will positively lead to Goans finally being able to avail cadaveric organs that in turn will save lives.”