Five years after legislation passed supporting human organ and tissue harvesting and transplants in Cayman, the government has produced regulations to the law that will make it easier for the medical procedures to be performed here.

The Human Tissue Transplant Regulations have been drafted and are now being put out for a 60-day comment period before the enabling legislation takes effect.

In practice, a small number of tissue transplant surgeries have been performed in Cayman. However, tissues or organs cannot currently be harvested here due to the lack of a human tissue registry, and sourcing them from overseas can be a complex and time-consuming process. Often, patients find they must go overseas to either obtain the needed tissue or for the surgeries, or both.

Following the public comment period and approval by Cabinet, a Human Tissue Transplant Council will be appointed. The council members will create a register that not only allows organs and tissues donated to be kept in Cayman, but which would also allow the British Overseas Territory to become part of an international donation network for human tissue.

“The ability to have a transplant center on island will make an immeasurable difference to patients who face organ failure or require organ/tissue donation,” said Health Minister Dwayne Seymour.

Tissue donation will only be done on a voluntary basis. Under the law, tissues or organs will be harvested from a deceased person only if a licensed medical practitioner is satisfied that the person gave consent to do so while they were still alive.

Only those who are 18 or older may register as organ donors. Children can donate regenerative body tissue, but only with parental consent.

The legislation passed in 2013 does not apply to fetal tissue, sperm or ova. It also requires that consent be given to remove organs or tissue from a human body and prohibits someone from removing tissue or organs from those who cannot legally give consent.

The bill makes unauthorized trading of human body parts a crime and establishes the council to review the process of tissue donation and transplants, including inspections of any animal tissue imported into Cayman that would be used during transplant surgery.

The issue of human tissue transplants was first reviewed in 2005 by a government-appointed committee and came to the fore again when Dr. Devi Shetty proposed his Narayana University Medical Centre in the Cayman Islands, or Health City Cayman Islands, as it is now formally known. The organ transplant proposal was also brought up and approved in a private members’ motion filed in the Legislative Assembly during 2010 by George Town legislator Ellio Solomon. Formal legislation was finally approved in early 2013.

Public comment on the regulations is asked to be submitted by May 7 to Health Ministry Senior Policy Advisor Janett Flynn. Correspondence can also be dropped off at the government administration building in George Town.

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