Organ donation bill progresses

Draft bill helps pave way for Shetty hospital ground breaking next month

A law to legalise the donation and transplantation of human organs in the Cayman Islands has been drafted and is being reviewed by government. 

Cabinet minster Mark Scotland confirmed: “The Organ Transplant Bill has now been drafted. I received the draft [last week] from Legal Drafting, so we will review it now and then it will be submitted to Cabinet for approval.” 

As well as moving closer to enabling organ donations in Cayman for the first time, the progress on the bill also helps pave the way for the establishment of Indian cardiologist Dr. Devi Shetty’s medical tourism hospital in the District of East End in Grand Cayman. 

Under the terms of the memorandum of understanding signed between the Cayman Islands government and Dr. Shetty in April 2010, Cayman had to introduce a human tissue and organ donation and transplantation law, as well as amend or introduce other laws and regulations before the developers would move ahead with the project. 

These included the Health Practice Law, enabling medical staff trained in India and other overseas countries to practise in Cayman; the Tax Concessions (Amendment) Law, which exempts companies from potential future taxes and the Medical Negligence (Non-Economic Damages) (Amendment) Law, which caps pain and suffering damages awarded in medical malpractice cases at $500,000.  

Mr. Scotland said the awaited regulations relating to the Health Practice Law were “near to being finalised”. 


August ground breaking  

Earlier this year, Dr. Shetty announced he would break ground on the Narayana Cayman University Medical Centre in the High Rock area of East End in August. 

Local partner in the Shetty venture, Gene Thompson, told the Caymanian Compass this week: “All is progressing well and we plan for the ground breaking next month.”  

The group is planning to hold public meetings in East End, Bodden Town and North Side this week to update the public on the project’s progress. 

Dr. Shetty proposes creating a US$2 billion hospital, which the developers say will eventually have 2,000 beds and cater to patients from the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as offering tertiary care to patients in Cayman. The first phase will consist of 140 beds and, if it goes according to the latest schedule outlined by the developers, is due to open next year.  

The subject of organ donations and transplants have been considered by two committees in the Cayman Islands over the years. George Town Member of the Legislative Assembly Ellio Solomon, who brought a motion in the Legislative Assembly in September 2010 calling for the legalisation of organ transplants and donations, chaired a committee that was subsequently set up to help draft legislation. An earlier committee, formed in 2006 and chaired by Dr. Steve Tomlinson, had also looked into the need for a transplant law.  

The Organ and Tissue Transplant Review Committee included representatives from the medical community, legal community, a transplant recipient and legal and policy advisers from the government. It sent its report to government in December 2010. 

Kidney disease specialist Dr. Frits Hendriks, who sat on the committee, welcomed the final draft of the bill and said he hoped the committee would get a chance to see the draft. 

“It’s been quite a long time between when we all came together on the committee and the final draft, but there are so many legal issues involved that I can imagine it would take a long time,” Dr. Hendriks said. “I’m so pleased to hear that it is going forward now because we really need an organ donation programme on the Islands. The dialysis unit is filled up with people.” 

45 in dialysis  

As of World Kidney Day on 8 March this year, there were 45 people on dialysis in local hospitals and eight people in Cayman were on a US waiting list for kidney transplants. 

Only 5 per cent of donated kidneys in America go to non-US citizens and the waiting list has more than 90,000 people on it. 

There is no organ donation programme in the Cayman Islands, meaning if a person dies here, he or she cannot donate organs for transplantation. If a family member wants to donate a kidney to a relative, both the donor and the recipient have to travel off island for surgery to do so. 

An online poll carried out by in May this year showed that more than 82 per cent of the 535 respondents supported legalising organ transplants from living and non-living recipients in the Cayman Islands. 

Devi Shetty

Dr. Shetty


  1. I hope that the pursuit of profit does not blind our politicians to the problems in this area. To quote from a United Nations website:

    Trafficking in organ trade is an organized crime, involving a host of offenders. The recruiter who identifies the vulnerable person, the transporter, the staff of the hospital/ clinic and other medical centres, the medical professionals, the middlemen and contractors, the buyers, the banks where organs are stored are all involved in the racket. It is a fact that the entire racket is rarely exposed and therefore, the dimensions are yet to be appropriately fathomed.

    Several International standards are in place on trafficking for organ trade:

    a. The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons
    includes organ removal and its subsequent sale as an end purpose of trafficking. Article 3 of the UN Trafficking Protocol that defines trafficking in persons, clearly includes trafficking for the purpose of removal of organs.

    b. Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (2000) to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
    This protocol states that the sale of children for the purpose of transferring their organs for profit should be a criminal offence.

    c. World Health Organization (WHO)
    The Guiding Principles on Human Organ Transplantation (1991) of WHO state that the commercialization of human organs is ‘a violation of human rights and human dignity’.

    d. An Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine Concerning Transplantation of Organs and Tissues of Human Origin (2002) prohibits organ and tissue trafficking, deriving a financial gain or comparative advantage from the human body and its parts and calls on States to provide appropriate sanctions for such trafficking.

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