Yesterday's investigative report in our paper has unraveled the painful situation where patients in need of a kidney transplant cannot have one because of legal loopholes. The country's Human Organ Transplant Act 1999 stipulates that the donor in question must be one of the following: son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, paternal and maternal uncle and aunt, husband and wife. While the idea behind such strict criteria was to prevent the macabre business of selling kidneys, in reality this legal binding has deprived many individuals from getting the kidney they need to survive or imposed exorbitant costs in getting kidney transplants abroad. The law moreover, though well-intentioned, has not been able to stop the illegal organ trade.
It is appalling that every year around 30,000 people die of kidney failure because they could not get access to the right medical care which includes transplant and dialysis. The report has quoted a kidney specialist saying that the lives of at least 20,000 of these people could have been saved had they been able to get kidney transplants. It is a tragedy that there could be many more potential donors within the country if only the law would allow non relatives to donate kidneys as is practised in other countries. This would also allow many more patients to get transplants as the costs would be significantly less than going abroad to get a transplant.
The law therefore needs to be amended to make it easier for patients to get kidney donors even from non relatives. As far as combating the illegal organ trade, the law enforcement agencies must be more vigilant and efficient in clamping down on those involved in it through diligent investigation.