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Body donation

(Querist) 18 April 2024 This query is : Resolved 
I am a senior citizen, true bachelor, self disciplined and self dependant, living alone, I have no blood relative or legal relative.

I am interested in donating my body to the anatomy department after my death. However, the department requires a consent letter from a legal relative not to claim the body after death.

Since I do not have any legal relatives, I am unsure how to proceed.

Are there any provisions in the Transplantation of Human Organs Act or any such Act, that address this situation?

Veterans, please guide me.
kavksatyanarayana (Expert) 18 April 2024
Medical Colleges can give you more information about these conditions and any other reasons why a Body Donation may be declined. Depending on the circumstances of a person’s death, a post-mortem examination may be required. A post-mortem examination is an important reason why a medical school might decline the offer of a Body Donation. So please try Medical Colleges near to your place.
T. Kalaiselvan, Advocate (Expert) 18 April 2024
The form can be obtained in the “Dept of Anatomy”. The potential donor must fill the form, attach their photographs, and it needs the consent of potential donor and his/ her near relatives in the form of signatures or thumbprint.
It is very important that the potential donors discuss their wish to “donate” their body with their near relatives.
The filled form should be submitted to the Dept of Anatomy. It can also be scanned and emailed to the email address given on the form.
If the potential donor dies before filling the form, the body donation can still be done. Here, the near relatives can fill the body donation form which is also available on the website or in the Dept of Anatomy.
You cannot ask the law to change to your taste, if you cannot comply with the legal procedures then your request may not be entertained.
The Anatomy Act 1959 is the primary legislation. Some of the states made their legislation. Therefore, you may contact a Lawyer in your area to know the exact law that governs this issue in the state you reside in. I am sure the State laws too have similar condition/s.

In the primary legislation, there is a provision for unclaimed bodies to be used for medical research, where an unclaimed body is defined as "Unclaimed body” means the body of a deceased person who has no near relative or whose body has not been claimed by any of his near relatives within such period as may be prescribed"

Section 5 of the same act states the procedure for an unclaimed body to be disposed of when a person dies in a Hospital, where it is possible to be handed over to an institution for research purposes if the authorized officer shall hand over the unclaimed body to an approved institution. This is if a person takes his last breath in a Hospital. However, we cannot decide where we die and we do not know when death hits us. Therefore, this is not a solace for a person having no close relatives and who wishes his body to be donated.

Therefore, when there is no provision for a person with no close relatives to donate his/her body in a routine procedure of filling up a form without obtaining a counter signature of a close relative as defined in the act. the only alternative is to move to the appropriate Court of Law to rectify this lacuna. if we can call it as such. The Court may exempt you specifically or give a landmark judgment applicable to all similar people across the country. You may have to move to the High Court. This may involve considerable expenses. Please discuss that matter with a Lawyer in your area. There may be NGO/s in your area working on the matter of Body Donation. Alternatively, may contact such NGOs in your area or by searching around on the internet. They may come to your help. But be careful in choosing the NGO duly using all your discretion and care.

My sincere advice is not to distress yourself too much about this issue at this stage of life but to take it easy as it comes. Certain things are beyond our control, more so when we are not around and already died.

P. Venu (Expert) 26 April 2024
There are NGOs which are proactive in this field. You can contact them seek guidance. Alternately, you can take up the matter with the Constitutional Courts (Supreme/High Court); even a letter-petition addressed to the Hon'ble Chief Justice could resolve the issue.

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