Dr. Philip Cheptinga, the Head of Nephrology at MTRH. Photo/Courtesy.

Kenyans Asked To Allow Their Organs Harvested To Benefit Others Once They Die

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Kenyans are being asked to embrace a practice where they consent to their body organs being harvested and used by others once they die.

The practice, according to Dr. Philip Cheptinga, the Head of Nephrology Department at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH), is already in place in many western countries.

In an interview with Uasin Gishu News, Dr. Cheptinga says one person can donate up to 69 organs.

The process of harvesting the body organs from a person who has consented to it before he/she dies is usually done when one is on brain death status.

Doctors in a transplant procedure

Brain death – also known as brain stem death is when a person on an artificial life support machine no longer has any brain functions. This means they will not regain consciousness or be able to breathe without support.

A person who is brain dead is legally confirmed as dead.

In most of the countries, we have brain death transplants where people sign consent to donate their organs. These are important organs most Kenyans deserve and they really require them,” says Dr. Philip Cheptinga.

Some of the organs that a person can do for others to use after death include kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, heart, small bowel, stem cells, bone marrow, cornea, skin, and reproductive tissues (eggs, ovary, sperm, testicles, uterus).

Consenting to an organ being removed after death is an issue the nephrologist admits might face some cultural opposition. He, however, says it is time Kenyans accepted that times have changed.

We need to accept and move on. We have our traditions, cultures, and norms but we have come to age, and we must change the way the world is changing. I am hoping Kenyans will accept this request so that we get the best from our bodies,” noted Dr. Cheptinga.

Past photo of Dr. Philip Cheptinga, the Head of Nephrology Department at MTRH.

We don’t need to have these organs going to waste. Let us give them to our fellow Kenyans who are in need,” he added.

Currently, the only way a person in Kenya can benefit from an organ is through life-related transplantation where a family member freely donates an organ to be used in the transplant.

Kidney and liver transplants are the most frequent procedures.

But even as the MTRH Head of Nephrology Department asks for Kenyans to allow their body parts used by others after death, he is also calling on the Parliament to operationalize the Solid and Liquid Organ Transplantation Act that President Uhuru Kenyatta ascended to in 2017.

Dr. Cheptinga with MTRH CEO Dr. Wilson Aruasa in Eldoret on March 10, 2022.

Dr. Philip Cheptinga says the legislators should pass Transplant Policies and Regulations that will facilitate the operationalization of the Act.

It is really difficult and challenging for us to operate without these guidelines and policies,” he says.

The Ministry of Health had already established the Human Organs Transplantation unit which was mandated to lead the implementation of the Act which allows people to donate their organs for research and to other persons once they die.

A person, who is competent, is allowed to make a will, to donate his or her body or any specified tissue to a person or institution of his choice after death.

Such consent can also be given by a spouse, elder child, parent, guardian elder brother, or sister in the event the person died without leaving a will.

In the event that the relatives of a deceased person cannot be traced and no will is left behind, the Health Cabinet Secretary has powers to donate the body or its parts.

The Act states that an organ donation must be done for free and those who breach the law face a fine not exceeding Ksh10 million or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years or both.

3 Comments

  1. some would see this as an abomination – but it actually looks a better option than those organs rotting

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