Excitement as govt moves to formalize body organ donation

Thursday November 03 2022
New Content Item (3)

Patients admitted to General Hospital in Gwoza, Nigeria, following a cholera outbreak in Borno state. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control also confirmed 200 deaths from of Lassa fever in the country in 2022. PHOTO | MOHAMMED MOMOH | NMG


Members of the public and health professionals are upbeat about the proposed Bill to allow Rwandans to donate their vital organs when they die. The organs included in the Organ Donation Bill are Kidneys, liver and cornea.

Mukanyima Primitiva, one of the many Rwandans who have expressed willingness to donate their organs upon their death, says she would be happy to donate her organs to those who need them upon her death.

“I would be glad to donate my organs as my final act of love to my fellow human beings,”

The cornea as well as other tissues that are transplanted into people are normally removed from dead bodies, but the law seeks to regulate the practice and ensure that the tissues are harvested when they are still of good conditions.

The practice of harvesting organs from those who want to donate their organs after they die, will begin early next year, with relevant institutions now making the necessary
preparations for the procedures to be conducted successfully in the country.

Dr Jean Claude Byiringiro, the Associate Professor of Surgery and Dean at the School of Medicine and Pharmacy, University of Rwanda, said the Bill is a move in the right direction from a public health standpoint.


That beyond developing the health sector through promoting medical tourism, it will facilitate more deepened research in the medical discipline, since some of the needed research is one based in clinical environments.

He also said allowing organ transplant procedures to be conducted in the country will help alleviate the financial burdens that many families suffer when conducting these procedures abroad.

“These procedures have come with untold financial pressures to many families travelling abroad for organ transplants, which involve transporting a caretaker, organ donor on top of the high cost of the procedure.

Such procedures have driven some families into poverty, being able to do them in the country will be a big relief,” he said.

Adding that having a law to regulate organ donation and transplant procedures is also important because it will safeguard the public from likely ethical issues and malpractice that can crop up.

“There easily can be ethical issues around organ harvesting and transplants, it is of critical importance that a law is in place to regulate the practice, to avoid cases of having organs obtained from black market,” said Dr Byiringiro.

The purpose of the law is to establish legislation for transplant surgery services, organ donation and teaching programs for academic purposes.

Once the law is in place, Rwandans of 18 years of age will be able to donate these vital organs. Rwandans spend billions every year on medical tourism, where many throng Indian hospitals, often taking care takers and organ donors for liver and kidney transplants, which ends up driving the costs up.

Minister of Health, Dr. Daniel Ngamije presented the Bill to the Chamber of Deputies, sparking excitement throughout the health sector. The law regulating therapeutic, educational and scientific utilisation of organs and products of the human body was gazetted in 2010 and revised in 2018.