New transplant law promises to save lives and cut costs- Health Minister

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Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony says that the historic Human Organ and Tissue Transplant Bill will allow for many more lives to be saved and it will significantly reduce the cost of treatment for patients.

This Bill, once enacted, would provide the much-needed framework to people to donate their organs, fluids and tissues and let people benefit from transplants, even after death once permission was granted by the donor while alive.

Dr. Anthony highlighted that this bill is particularly necessary since there are many patients with diseases that significantly affect their quality of life.

With transplants, however, those patients would be able to get new organs or other bodily components that would enhance their quality of life, saving their lives.

To illustrate his point, he mentioned that there are numerous patients suffering from end-stage renal disease, commonly called kidney failure. The lives of these patients, he said, can be significantly improved.

“… a kidney transplant would be very effective because they would not be required to come three times a week to get dialysis.

“Plus, there’s a lot of cost to do dialysis and a person can almost return to an almost normal work life,” Dr. Anthony said during his daily COVID-19 update on Wednesday.

Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony.

The News Room reported that Christopher Sukha, a 25-year-old man who has kidney failure, has to undergo dialysis at least two times a week- on Mondays and Thursdays. This dialysis allows the waste to be removed from his body via a machine but it costs $12,000 per session- a sum he cannot afford since he is unable to work.

Without this dialysis, toxic substances would build up in the blood and eventually, an individual may die.

But the Bill provides a legislative framework for more than just renal transplants, or transplants in general.

Dr. Anthony highlighted that the Bill is also “forward looking” because it allows local health authorities to engage in “bio-banking”, wherein cells or tissues are collected and preserved for a long period of time before use.

It also provides a legal framework for blood transfusions.

There is currently no legislation governing, authorising and regulating the donation of tissue and organs to persons who meet the criteria of either being a donor or recipient of such donation. But work had been ongoing over the past few months to craft new legislation.

And, as per the Bill, a national Human Organ and Tissue Transplant Agency could be established to manage the removal, donation and transfer of human organs to the body of other living individuals.

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