Enact new organ harvesting policy for sustainability

Human organs

The high demand for organ transplants exacerbates the plight of of patients.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • The policy must address cultural beliefs and misconceptions about organ donation.
  • We must strengthen the healthcare infrastructure to support organ harvesting.

Staggering statistics pinpoint a grim picture of Kenyans suffering from kidney, liver as well as heart diseases and are in need of transplants.

For example, an estimated 12,000 Kenyans are living with kidney disease, with at least 6,000 patients reliant on dialysis, leaving another half with no help.

The high demand for organ transplants, coupled with the low availability of donor organs, exacerbates the plight of these patients.

Dialysis, while lifesaving, is a temporary measure and often fails to provide the long-term health benefits that organ transplants can offer.

Is it time we enact a cadaver organ harvesting law and make it mandatory for sustainability? For this to happen, we need a significant medical policy transformation with the exploration of a new cadaver organ harvesting policy.

Organs for transplantation

Many medical experts have continually highlighted the unsustainability of current organ transplant practices; this policy seeks to provide a sustainable solution to a growing health crisis. If we develop a cadaver organ harvesting policy, it will be a beacon of hope.

It seeks to increase the number of available organs for transplantation, thereby reducing the waiting time while improving the recovery of patients' chances of end-stage organ failure.

By focusing on cadaveric donations, the policy should create a more sustainable and efficient organ donation system to meet the Kenyans needs.

Kenya can learn from the success stories of developed countries where cadaver organ harvesting policy dictates that an adult is considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when he/she dies unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded category groups. 

Drawing inspiration from nations like Spain, Japan, the UK, and the United States, structured policies and public awareness campaigns have significantly increased the rate of organ donations. 

Spain, for instance, boasts one of the highest organ donation rates globally, thanks to it opt-out system and robust healthcare infrastructure.

Organ donation system

In the United States, policies that support both living and cadaveric donations, combined with advanced medical technologies, have resulted in a more effective organ transplantation system.

These countries have demonstrated that with the right policies and public support, creating a sustainable organ donation system that saves lives is possible.

What are some of the challenges and considerations that the policy should address? While the potential benefits are significant, implementing a cadaver organ harvesting policy will be challenging. The policy must address cultural beliefs and misconceptions about organ donation through education and awareness campaigns.

In addition, we must strengthen the healthcare infrastructure to support organ harvesting and transplantation procedures.

Moreover, we ought to develop regulations on how to manage ethical considerations around consent and the handling of cadaveric organs to maintain public trust and compliance with international medical standards.

With concerted efforts, the dream of a sustainable organ transplant system in Kenya can become a reality and save thousands.

Dr Odhiambo, Ph.D teaches Actuarial Science at Meru University of Science and Technology (MUST) and is an AI Post-Doctoral Researcher and a Public Policy Analyst. [email protected], X: @Dr_Jodhiambo