Uhuru establishes new organ transplant agency

Friday, August 5th, 2022 02:00 | By
Uhuru establishes new organ transplant agency

The process of donating body organs will now be streamlined following the gazettement of a new agency.

The Kenya Tissue and Transplant Authority will replace the Kenya National Blood Transfusion, Tissue and Human Organ Transplant Services (KBTTS).

It will handle all human tissue, cells and organ transplants.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who created the new authority through a gazette notice on July 28, revealed that the new entity will also regulate all services relating to human cells, tissue and organ transplant in accordance with the Health Act, 2017 besides registering and licensing facilities and establishments dealing with human cells, tissues and organs and transplant services.

The establishment of the authority immediately won the support of the Kenya Renal Association (KRA), whose president, Dr John Ngigi, said the more than 6,000 Kenyans who suffer kidney failure annually would be the biggest beneficiaries.

“It is the greatest news we have received in a long time. It is going to save thousands of Kenyans who experience body organs, particularly kidney failure and yet have nowhere to turn to,” Dr Ngigi said.

The authority, which will inherit the KBTTS employees, will also be mandated with the maintenance of a registry of transplant service providers, donors and recipients.

The establishment of the authority, which will be headed by a chief executive and a board of directors, will pave the way for Kenyans, to, either in a written will or oral statement before witnesses, donate their bodies or body parts to persons or institutions of their choice upon death.

It will also regulate the establishment of human organ banks where harvested human organs, cells and tissues can be stored for future use.

Harvested organs donated to medical institutions would be preserved in an organ bank for use in competent transplant facilities.

Cash cow

The authority will have the responsibility of building the capacity to effectively collect, screen and preserve donated body organs.

To prevent unauthorised harvesting of organs for commercial or other purposes, the law has also put in punitive measures, including a fine of up to Sh10 million, or 10 years in jail or both for those turning lifesaving organs into a cash cow.

“The authority shall also establish an equitable mechanism for matching and allocation of cells, tissue and organs; oversee the implementation of policies, guidelines, procedures and standards relating to human tissues and organs and provide support services for transfusion and transplant systems including testing, grouping, typing, banking, processing, distribution, manufacturing and quality control,” the President said in the gazette notice.

The authority will be required to develop a national emergency response mechanism, including maintenance of strategic reserves, for human tissues and organs.

It will be charged with the responsibility to mobilise, educate and sensitise members of the public to foster voluntary donations of cells, tissues and organs and collaborate, within agreed arrangements, with other established organ exchange organisations in other countries, for the exchange of tissue and organs where appropriate.

“It will also conduct, and collaborate with other stakeholders, in conducting research on human cells, tissues and organs and related services and advise the Cabinet Secretary, National and County governments and all the stakeholders on ethical, legal and clinical issues related to services for human cells, tissue and organ transplant,” Uhuru added adding that the authority may be given other functions determined by its board and the Health Cabinet Secretary.

Transplant medicine

The management of the Board of Directors of the authority will include a non-executive chairperson appointed by the President, Health Ministry PS, Attorney General, a representative of the Council of Governors and three other members not serving in the public service who will be appointed by the Health Cabinet Secretary.

“The three will be appointed by virtue of gender, disability, regional balance and their knowledge and experience in matters relating to haematology, pathology, transplant medicine, finance, management, economics, law or any other relevant field,” the gazette notice reads.

Also, the board will include the chief executive officer who shall be an ex-officio member.

Uhuru said the new authority’s board will have powers to receive any grants, gifts, donations or endowments and make legitimate disbursements alongside acquiring land or assets as are necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Authority.

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