May 19, 2013 | 11:57 AM (BD Time)
19 May, 2013 Sunday
For simple law to donate organs
Ferdousi Begum, mother of two, suffers from the pain of dialysis thrice a week owing to kidney trouble. For one-and-a-half years, she has been desperately trying to manage a kidney from her relatives to enable herself to live a normal life. But luck is not on her side. She has lost her father and the septuagenarian mother is also unwell. All she can look up to for help is her maternal uncle. But doctors say his kidneys do not match hers.
The kidney that suits Ferdousi is that of her nephew. But she cannot go for it as Bangladesh organ donation law does not allow her to do so, she told bdnews24.com.
Kidney specialist Prof M A Samad, who is also the president of Kidney Awareness Monitoring and Prevention Society (KAMPS), said many of his patients were facing similar dilemma. And this has left the medical fraternity fending for an answer to the problem. They believe it is high time the government revised a law on kidney donation.
Citing the predicament of Ferdousi Begum and her likes in the country, a group of specialists on Saturday urged the government to amend the 1999 law to allow 'emotional or altruist' kidney donation, enabling hundreds of people live a normal life. Speaking at a roundtable in the capital, they also suggested formation of a 'central authority' to oversee organ donation in the country. The current law allows a patient to get kidney only from brothers, sisters, father, mother, maternal, and paternal uncles and aunts. "There are many countries including Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Iran and European countries that encourage emotional donors to donate kidney," said the president of KAMPS that organised the event in the backdrop of the ongoing crisis in kidney transplantation. Started in 1982, over 1,000 patients had been grafted kidney in Bangladesh until Sep 2011 when police uncovered a notorious group running illegal kidney trade. After the police raid, Prof Samad said people got panicky as some media reports talked of 'health risks' for the donors and linked some doctors to the illegal business.
"But both were false. Eventually patients are suffering due to the confusion," he said urging the government to make the organ donation law 'flexible'. "There should have been a government-monitored central system to oversee kidney transplantation," he said. President of Renal Transplant Association Prof Harun-or-Rashid said with the rising incidence of kidney failure, more and more people would require transplantation in the coming days.
"We must create awareness among people to dispel misgivings about kidney donation. At the same time, we should allow more relatives to donate kidney," he said adding that authorities should allow donation from cousins in a revised organ transplant law. Member of parliament Prof Matiur Rahman said he needs a kidney to get rid of the agonising pain of dialysis.
But he failed to get one from the relatives the law allows reception from.
"There are many people who want to donate (kidney) to me, but I cannot take from them as the law does not allow," he said. He said the law should be amended allowing 'emotional or interested' donors as in other countries.
In the light of the plight of kidney patients, bdnews24.com chief editor Toufique Imrose Khalidi found the demand to amend the law only 'logical'. "And quick measures should be taken in this regard," he said. Khalidi said generating awareness would be key to prevent kidney ailments, as most of the people in the country cannot afford kidney treatment on account of the high costs involved. He suggested using 'internet' apart from other means to inform people.
Earlier, presenting a paper, KAMPS president Prof Samad showed even 10 percent of the total kidney patients cannot afford their treatment. He said nearly 20 million people suffer from one or the other kidney ailment, and 35,000 to 40,000 people die of kidney failures every year. Jafrullah Chowdhury, founder of GonoShasthaya Kendra, however, emphasised the need to lower kidney transplant fees. "It will help more patients to avail kidney transplantation," he said. Currently, it takes Tk 2-7 lakh for kidney grafting in Bangladesh. Rising trend of high blood pressure, diabetes and mindless use of drugs are adding to the rising number of kidney patients in Bangladesh. Experts called upon all to be aware of the disease, as symptoms of chronic kidney diseases surfacing at an advanced stage baffle people. "We can prevent over 50 percent of the (kidney) failures, if detected early. Blood and urine tests of people at risk, who are diabetic and have high blood pressure, can ensure early detection," according to Prof Samad. He said people can get some clues through change in amount, color and frequency of urine, swelling in different parts of the body, fatigue and breathing shortness.
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