The country’s existing law is prohibiting people from a noble act -- donating kidney -- Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury said yesterday.
According to theTransplantation of Human Organs (amendment) Act-2018, only “close relatives” can donate organs which curbs people’s basic right to get healthcare service, he told a press conference at Gonoshasthaya Kendra in the capital’s Dhanmondi.
He said more people could be encouraged to donate kidneys by bringing changes in the provision of the Transplantation of Human Organs (amendment) Act-2018.
Each healthy citizen should be allowed to donate organs, said Zafrullah, adding that a person with transplanted kidney could lead a life for 15 to 20 years without major complications.
Bangladeshis spend about Tk 800 crore abroad each year for kidney transplant whereas the medical cost per transplant is up to Tk 2.5 lakh in the country now, he said.
Of an estimated 10,000 patients who need kidneys each year, some 1,000 patients receive treatment in India and another 500 in Sri Lanka.
These patients spend between Tk 30 lakh and Tk 40 lakh each, he said.
Around 100 to 200 patients, mostly from well-off families, undergo treatment in Singapore and the US, and they spend between Tk one crore and Tk three crore each, he added.
Some people are also treated in Thailand, he said in reply to a query.
Under the existing facilities, as many as 250 kidney transplants take place each year in Bangladesh, said Zafrullah.
As it is required to prove relationship with patients to become donors under the present law, many people try to establish false relationship, he said.
Patients and their families bring individuals, impersonating siblings or wives or mothers, he added.
Deceased people’s kidneys can be transplanted, but the result is not the same as a living person’s kidney, he said.
Zafrullah said if the government declares reward of Tk 5 lakh for each kidney donor and recognises them with certificates to give priority in healthcare service, then it will encourage many people to donate kidneys.
It will also help curb illegal transaction of money over getting kidneys, he added.
In a written handout, the Gonoshasthaya Kendra recommended making three types of organ donations eligible under the law.
These are: related living donor, which can be eligible for close relatives, unrelated living donor, which can be eligible for non-relatives, and swap or paired donation, which can be eligible for friends and in case of “emotional attachment”.
Zafrullah said an “authorisation board” could be formed in every district with a retired justice or a doctor or a senior journalist as its chairman to stop transaction of money over kidney donation.
About 45,000 new patients are being diagnosed with renal failure each year in the country, he said, referring to Bangladesh Kidney Foundation’s data.
People of low-income group are more prone to renal failure due to lack of treatment facilities, he added.
Its best treatment is kidney transplant, but a patient can also get similar remedy with dialysis regularly, he said.
Dialysis is expensive and it requires Tk 30,000 to Tk 40,000 a month for a patient, he further said.
Gonoshasthaya Dialysis Centre provides around 260 patients with dialysis service daily, he said, urging the government to give the patients incentives.
It will start kidney transplantation next year. A team of surgeons from the UK will help this centre’s surgeons initially, he said.
For each kidney transplant, low-income people have to spend Tk 1.5 lakh and solvent people Tk 2.5 lakh, he added.