Although Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, at a recent post-Cabinet press briefing announced that Guyana currently does not have the capacity to offer robust transplantation services, there certainly is a dire need. This is in light of the growing number of persons suffering from renal failure who are in need of transplants to extend and improve their quality of life.
And putting adequate measures in place could in fact help to guard against potential infiltration of criminality which can occur if the process of transplantation is commercialised.
According to Head of Nephrology at the McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, Dr. Alistair Ingram, commercialisation of transplantation is forbidden worldwide.
Moreover, he disclosed that transplant societies around the world have embraced the notion that transplantation in any form should not be commercialised. Dr. Ingram explained that “commercialisation inevitably leads to donation (of organs) by poor people who are usually not compensated anywhere near the amount of money that exchange hands…they get no follow-up (care) afterwards and often have poor health outcomes as a consequence.”
Further, he disclosed that the commercialisation can in fact encourage criminality in the form of kidnapping and organ trafficking and therefore has the potential of lending to a “very slippery slope and certainly not one that you want to go down.”
Dr. Ingram was at the time speaking at a media briefing held at the Doobay Medical/Renal Centre, East Coast Demerara, when he was prompted to comment on the sale of organs for transplantation purposes.
It was only recently that this publication was reliably informed that at least two renal failure patients, desperate to save their lives, opted to procure kidneys to have transplant operations done here.
Founder and President of the Doobay Centre, Dr. Budhendra Doobay, during an interview, said that while he doesn’t have statistics about the transplants conducted locally, he has been privy to information that two patients were listed among those procuring kidneys for the purpose of transplantation. “I do know two of our patients from our dialysis centre who bought kidneys and I don’t think I am wrong…one bought a kidney for $1.5 million and died a week or two after the operation, and another gentleman I’m told bought a kidney for $8 million and he died too,” disclosed Dr. Doobay.
But Dr Luncheon at his post-Cabinet press briefing stated that “the notion of a market in transplanted parts (here) would appear to be on the surface a highly unusual activity that would be difficult to contemplate.”
“I don’t believe we have done 10 transplants in Guyana of any sort and to imagine that there will be, or could be, an industry building up around the sale, illegal or otherwise, of body parts is difficult to countenance,” Dr. Luncheon noted.
In fact he pointed out that there have merely been a few transplants conducted, all living related. He added his belief too that most of these organs for transplants are donated by family members. “I don’t know if we sell our kidneys to our families but if that is the implication then they still would be in the context of the few…literally few transplants that have occurred, an extremely small market.”
But this practice, at any scale, simply should never be allowed, according to Dr. Ingram. He pointed out that while it wouldn’t be classified as unethical if a donor is reimbursed after donating an organ, this transaction should never be between the donor and the recipient. “I think all of us accept that that person (donor) is going to lose income as a consequence of them taking time off and they should be reimbursed but that has to come from a central agency,” asserted Dr. Ingram.
In fact according to the practicing Nephrologist, who, along with other experts from the McMaster University, have been rendering much technical support to the Doobay Centre, “we will be happy to supply a small pot of money to reimburse donors for lost income.”
Already the McMaster University has been collaborating with the Doobay Centre, the Ministry of Health and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation with a view of introducing free kidney transplants in the New Year.
But according to Dr. Ingram such an undertaking must be done by a group tasked with assessing potential donors in order to ascertain their usual income and determine how much they should be compensated. “It has to completely be at arm’s length from the recipient,” insisted Dr. Ingram.
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