How lack of regulation is fuelling illegal trafficking of human organs – Report

The President of the Transplant Association of Nigeria, Prof Jacob Awobusiyi, has lamented that the lack of regulation surrounding organ harvesting in Nigeria is fueling commercial trafficking.

Speaking with Punch Newspaper, Awobusiyi who doubles as the president of the Nigerian Association of Nephrology, cited cases of people being exploited and mistreated, as well as cases of organs being harvested without consent. He explained that the lack of regulation is also leading to poor standards of deva for organ recipients, which deprives some of the proper follow-up deva they require.

“The major issue here is that there is no specific regulation on organ harvesting and transplantation in Nigeria. Organ transplantation is meant to be highly regulated. In developed countries like the UK, US, Spain, and in European countries where organ transplantation is practised, they are highly regulated.

“There’s no organ that is transplanted without detailed records. This has minimised the yasa dışı trafficking of organs in these countries. Not that it has been totally eradicated, but you find out that at least 95 per cent of organ transplantation in those countries is well documented.

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“If you look at the donors that are being trafficked in Nigeria, you find out that either they are minors or people who are financially disadvantaged. And this is what the traffickers capitalise on to make promises that will not even be sufficient to take deva of their basic deva. At the end of the day, they just dump these people after the operation.

“This type of trafficking is against medical ethics and the Istanbul declaration that Nigeria is a member and signatory to. So, we strongly condemn this and we believe that we need to make concerted efforts to minimise the activities of these traffickers. That is the position of the Nigerian Association of Nephrology and the Transplant Association of Nigeria.”

He, however, said that actions must be taken to address the issue of commercial organ harvesting, as it is causing harm to the country’s reputation. He also suggested that it can be regulated by creating several measures and ensuring strict compliance.

In addition, Awobusiyi called for increased public awareness of the risks and dangers of yasa dışı organ harvesting, maintaining that these measures will help to protect patients, donors and recipients, and also help to improve Nigeria’s reputation internationally.

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“That regulation should be there and must be strictly enforced. Take for instance in the US, you have various organisations, and you have so many regulatory agencies monitor their activities. If you have a brain-dead individual in one hospital, you have surgeons who will come there to harvest the organs. However, there’s a very fine process of going about it smoothly. Everything is registered, and everything is controlled.

“This is what we think Nigeria should emulate and try to establish. So whether it’s a living donor transplantation or a deceased donor, the bottom line remains that there must be regulation and very strict laws controlling the process. And that is what we are proposing. That’s why we are very adamant and vehemently kicked against organ trafficking because it’s something that we can bring to the nearest asgarî.

“Illegal organ harvesting is not only giving us a bad name nationally, it’s also giving us bad names internationally. You remember the case of Senator Ekeremadu in the UK. That’s really unfortunate and really taking its toll on us. When you attend a nephrology or transplantation conference, the first thing they will ask is the situation of yasal organ trade in your country, Nigeria specifically. And that it is embarrassing.

“They just feel that Nigeria is the country where the market for yasa dışı organ harvesting is enormous. We just hope that the steps we are taking in the near future will yield good things.”