Uganda gives green light to organ transplants
Soon Ugandans who need organ transplants will no longer have to travel abroad, thanks to a new law allowing the procedure in the country.
Kidney patients are currently the biggest group in need of transplants in Uganda. There is just one dialysis unit in the whole country.
A kidney transplant can cost at least $30,000 (£27,000) abroad, but experts say this could come down to about $8,000 if done within the country.
The new law will clear the way for transplantation centres and a national waiting list of organ recipients to be created, but also contains stringent measures in case of organ trafficking or abuse of donors’ rights.
Operating an illegal transplant clinic or harvesting organs from a living person without their consent may attract life imprisonment.
About 100 Ugandan health workers, including surgeons, nurses and post-surgery specialists have already been trained abroad, mostly in carrying out kidney transplantations.
Parliament has approved the new transplant law meaning that it will come into force as soon as the president gives his assent – which is largely a formality, because assent is almost always given.
Uganda would be joining a short list of African countries, including South Africa, Tunisia and Kenya, that have both the regulations and health facilities for organ transplants to be possible within their borders.
At the moment India and Turkey are the most popular destinations for Ugandan kidney patients. Only close relatives are allowed to be donors and trips have to be approved by the Uganda Medical Board – to prevent organ trafficking or people being coerced to offer their organs.
Those backing it say Uganda needs special legislation to create a safe framework under strict regulation to make sure there is no abuse.
The proposal includes the creation of a national waiting list of organ recipients as well as the establishment of specialised transplant centres around the country. An operating theatre has already been set up at the main national hospital in Mulago, Kampala.
Organ banks will also be created for those who want to donate – and not just for kidneys