As Nigeria joined the rest of the global community to mark the 2018 International Day for Organ Donation, the Transplant Association of Nigeria (TAN) has raised the alarm over the large gap existing between the number of registered organ donors compared to those awaiting organ donation.
While alerting the populace about the challenges being posed by the acute shortage of human organs which are donated to save lives, President of TAN, Dr. Ebun Bamgboye who is a consultant nephrologist, said while advanced developed countries have progressed significantly in the area of organ donation, Nigerians were yet to key into optimal organ donation.
Addressing a press conference to mark the World Organ Donation Day in Lagos recently, the president of TAN noted that the only organ transplants currently taking place in Nigeria was that of cornea, bone marrow and kidney transplants, the last of which were being carried out in about 13 hospitals in Nigeria so far.
The World Organ Donation Day was marked on August 13 to create awareness about organ donation so as to make people donate voluntarily, to appreciate donors of organs and to motivate and encourage more people towards organ donation.
According to Bamgboye, in America, over 15,000 transplants were carried out yearly; in China, it’s over 5,000; in India, it’s over 3,500; in Brazil over 3,000 were done, but here in Africa, we are just starting to join in transplantation medicine and we don’t have as many as the transplant centres in the world.”
“The main countries where transplants are being done in Africa are South Africa, followed by Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Mauritius,” he added.
However, based on various chronic illnesses leading to organ failure, there were many other organs that were now being transplanted and based on existing law, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends non remunerated organ donation, while penalties were instituted on violators who commercialise the donation of human organs.
He said, “The most common organ transplanted now is the cornea, followed by kidney and then the liver.
Numerous other organs that are now being transplanted going by possibilities in modern medicine are heart, lungs, pancreas, small intestine, skin tissues, bone tissues, heart valves and veins.
On her part, Medical Director of Eye Bank for Restoration of Sight, Dr. Mosun Faderin-Omotosho lamented that although, cornea transplant was being done in the country, the cornea were donated by foreigners and imported into the country. “There is a lot of taboos and religious belief that keep Nigerians back from donating their organs.” The Eye Bank is domiciled in Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).
While a lot of Nigerians preferred to be buried with their corneas, Faderin-Omotosho said, “When we die, we don’t need these corneas.” On the contrary, he urged Nigerians to donate their corneas so that they would be harvested when they die for transplant on those with damaged vision.
On how to key into the project, she urged interested persons to get forms from the Eye Bank at LASUTH or from the website of the Eye Bank. “Fill the form, giving approval for the organ to the harvested on your death.”
In his contribution, a former representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Sam Oyegbile, said there was need to work on policy makers to support the organ donation drive. “If we can get policy makers to use policy drive the initiative, it would go a long way to change the attitude of Nigerians towards donating organs.
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