18 foreigners still had kidney transplants after ban – Redcop

Anna Bueno, Newsbreak

Posted at Aug 07 2009 06:46 PM | Updated as of Aug 08 2009 03:58 AM

Local hospitals violated PGMA directive

Despite a government ban on kidney transplants for foreigners, 18 foreigners still had operations done in the Philippines from May to December 2008.

It was President Arroyo herself who ordered the ban on April 29, 2008, in the wake of reports showing that the huge demand for kidneys from foreign patients has encouraged a black market in human organs in the country that primarily preyed on the poor.

However, data obtained by Newsbreak from the Philippine Renal Disease Registry (Redcop), which covers January to December 2008, indicates that 178 foreigners had kidney transplants in the country for the entire year.

The data obtained by Newsbreak from Redcop showed that 18 of these were done after the ban.

Of the 18 foreigners, 10 received kidneys from living, non-related donors.

The 178 foreigners were 26.6% of the total of 669 transplants conducted last year. Of this number, 491 (73.4%) were Filipinos.

The bulk of the foreigners who sought—and gained—kidneys in the Philippines were Middle Eastern or Arabian. They comprised 144 of the 178 foreign transplantees last year.

Nearly half of the foreigners—55 of them, with 52 being Middle Eastern or Arabian—had operations done at the Victor R. Potenciano Medical Center (VRPMC) in Mandaluyong City. All 55 secured kidneys from living, non-related donors.

More foreigners had transplants done at the VPMRC compared to the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), which only did 25 transplants on foreign patients. This was one less than the number of foreigners who had kidney transplants done at the Capitol Medical Center, which had 26 foreign kidney transplants for 2008.

Few kidneys sourced from cadaver donations

While kidney transplants from deceased donors are encouraged for recipients, only four hospitals recorded doing such. The kidneys used in 26 transplant operations done at the NKTI were sourced from deceased donors. Of this number, 25 of the recipients were Filipinos and one was a foreigner.

Two Filipino patients of the University of Sto. Tomas Hospital got their kidneys from deceased donors, while the Manila Doctors Hospital and the Medical City each had one patient receiving a kidney from a cadaver.

Meanwhile, 280 of the 491 Filipino transplant patients received kidneys from living, non-related donors. One hundred eighty-two (182) conducted transplants with kidneys from living, related donors. Majority of the Filipino transplants—340 of them—were conducted in NKTI.

Trade puts lives of the poor at risk

Earlier this year, Newsbreak published a series of special reports the influx of many rich transplant patients from abroad who are willing to pay for new body spare parts has led to a brisk local trade in human organs that has not only led to one or possibly more heinous crimes, but has also placed the health and lives of many poor Filipinos at risk. (See: Brisk Organ Trade Imperils Lives and Organ trade continues despite ban on transplantation to foreigners.)

To address the issue of organ trafficking, the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking issued new rules and regulations implementing provisions of Republic Act No. 9208 (the Anti-Trafficking In Persons Act of 2003) concerning organ trafficking.  - Newsbreak

This article was made possible with the generous support of the American people through the United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat trafficking in Persons and The Asia Foundation. The contents are the responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Department of State of the United States or The Asia Foundation.