Kenya sets up organ, tissue donation bank


Kenya is establishing a body organ and tissue donation bank in September. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Kenya is establishing a body organ and tissue donation bank in September in a national effort to grow the pool and meet the demand.

It will be set up at the East Africa Kidney Institute (EAKI) on Ngong Road and will be open for donations from both the living and dead.

Peter Mungai, the director of the East African Kidney Institute, says the pilot programme will involve kidney donations, saying the organ is in high demand.

Donors will give to an anonymous recipient on the national waiting list and the match between the giver and the receiver is based on medical compatibility.

“This programme is all about a bank match where donated organs and tissue will be stored awaiting a transplant where receivers will easily get their match. The kidney donation will be given priority after which other tissues and organs including the liver, pancreas, cornea, lungs, and the heart will be open for donations,” said Prof Mungai.

Prof Mungai has asked the general public to take up the challenges to reduce the kidney disease burden in the country as well as help those with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) to live a normal life through transplants.

This comes at a time kidney disease continues to be a health burden in the country affecting anyone without discrimination on gender, age, or financial status.

The Ministry of Health estimates that more than 1.8 million Kenyans suffer from CKD, majorly contributed to by late diagnosis, limited access to treatment, and poor control of non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.

It is further estimated that almost 500,000 Kenyans are living with chronic kidney disease and more than 6000 patients are on dialysis in Kenya.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), kidney diseases are projected to become the fifth leading cause of premature deaths globally by 2040.

With the bank match initiative, kidney patients are now assured of a more eased process of receiving transplants from donated organs and living healthily afterwards.

This will be strengthened by the creation of new tissue, and organ transplant authority by former president Kenyatta to ensure access to the safe and ethical use of human cells, tissues, and organs as well as the well-being of donors and recipients.

However, Kenyan law clearly states that an adult person can only donate a kidney and not sell it to a willing buyer.

This limitation has over time resulted in most people dying without getting a suitable donor as all willing donors are required to undergo a series of tests before undergoing surgery.

“Anyone who charges a fee for a human organ commits an offence (and) is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh10 million or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years or to both a fine and imprisonment,” states the Law.

Unlike the diseased donors, the living donors will be expected to be in good overall physical and mental health and older than 18 years of age.

Prof Mungai elaborates that willing donors must share all information about their general health status since some donor health conditions could harm a transplant recipient.

“Medical conditions such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, certain infections, or an uncontrolled psychiatric condition, could prevent you from being a living donor,” he says.

Before any process is conducted on the donor “you must be fully informed of the known risks involved with donating and complete a full medical and psychosocial evaluation. Your decision to donate should be completely voluntary and free of pressure or guilt.”

A living donation from a living human being to another is arranged through individual transplant centres according to the criteria they have in place.

An independent donor advocate will represent the interests and well-being of the potential living donor.

The donor is taken to an operating room, where organs are surgically removed by qualified surgeons. After that, the organs are put in the bank match. It will later be transported to hospitals where the recipient is waiting.

There is a good chance of a successful kidney transplant if the kidney is donated by a blood relative.

Although there is no guarantee that any kidney transplant will work, 90 to 95 percent of kidneys donated by living donors are working one year after the transplant.

This compares with a success rate of 80 to 90 percent for kidneys from deceased donors. These differences become more marked at five and ten years after transplantation.

This is according to data from Parklands Kidney Centre.

Long-term studies have concluded that there does not appear to be any risk of serious problems from donating a kidney.

However there is sometimes a slight rise in blood pressure or increased loss of protein in the urine, but these do not hurt health.

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