Law passed to govern organ transplants in Guyana

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After years of conducting different types of transfusions and organ transplants, Guyana has finally enacted laws to govern and regulate how those highly technical and medical exchanges of human parts are carried out.

The Human Organ Transplant Bill was passed in the National Assembly on Monday, even as opposition lawmakers asked that it be sent to a Special Select Committee to be further discussed.

Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony said he was satisfied that the government had done everything it needed to and sought both international and local professional input before bringing what he described as the most advanced piece of legislation in the English-speaking Caribbean.

He reminded that transfusions have been done for decades in Guyana with the first transplant conducted on July 12, 2008; that was a kidney transplant.

Since then, and in the absence of regulatory legislation, some 66 kidney transplants and 99 cornea transplants have been done locally.

“There was no legislation in place and this government was the one who thought that it was important to put the safeguard and the law in place and to specify the punishment for breach of the law.

“We are coming from a place where we had nothing and we are putting that structure in place,” Dr. Anthony told the House on Monday.

The legislation will govern human tissue transplant to the body of another living person and ethical issues relating to this operation.

As such, the legislation prohibits citizens from being victims of trafficking in human organs, thereby creating offences and penalties guard against such grim acts.

A national Human Organ and Tissue Transplant Agency would be established to manage the removal, donation and transfer of human organs.

The Health Minister can grant permission for any hospital, including a private hospital, clinic, healthcare provider, laboratory or any other facility to be designated a transplant facility.

All people who are willing to donate their organs for transplant to help improve the lives of other individuals or for use in scientific research will be part of a National Donor and Transplant Registry.

This registry shall include the names of adults who have granted their consent for the donation of their organs, tissues, cells or biofluids after death.

An individual who has given consent may, at any time before the removal of the organ, tissue, cell or biofluid to which that consent was given, revoke the said consent.

For the donation of tissues, organs, cells or biofluids by minors, an Independent Assessment Committee shall be established by the Chief Medical Officer or the Director of Medical Services of the designated hospital where the bodily component will be transplanted.

The Georgetown Hospital has been lobbying for years for such legislation, which will also save lives. The public hospital has the capability and equipment for those operations, but there is no legislation to govern such.

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