Lifeline for kidney patients in Bahrain
Manama, August 28, 2008
Kidney patients in Bahrain could get a new lifeline, with moves to allow transplants from non-related, living donors.
A 'life or death' panel is being set up by the Health Ministry, to decide if such transplants, case-by-case, should be allowed.
Current laws do not allow such donations, for fear of fuelling an organs-for-sale trade, which has happened in some countries.
But the plight of one patient, who cannot find a match among relatives, but has offers from non-related prospective donors, has sparked an urgent review.
The decision to set up the panel of experts came after Health Minister Dr Faisal Al Hamer met with consultant renal and kidney transplant surgeon Dr Sadiq Abdulla and ministry administration and hospitals' assistant Under-Secretary Dr Abdul Hai Al Awadi.
The decision came a day after our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News reported that a Bahraini woman who needs a life-saving kidney transplant had been unable to get it from relatives because of their medical condition, or from a non-related donor because of legal issues.
Mona Humood, aged 44, then appealed to Dr Al Hamer to help her overcome the hurdles because, as she put it, she did not want to die.
Dr Al Hamer promised to look into her case and work out a solution.
'The modalities for setting up the three-member committee are under way and it will be announced in the next few weeks,' said Dr Abdulla.
'It would consist of a psychologist, a legal expert and a specialist in medicine.
'There will be no one from the transplant team on the panel.'
He said any case of a non-related living donor being available for any patient would be referred to this committee, which will study the case and proceed further.
'This committee will first conduct a blood test and if that matches, will discuss all other ethical, psychological and legal issues,' said Dr Abdulla.
'If the blood group does not match, the case will end and will not proceed further.
'But if it does and provided the committee is otherwise satisfied that no personal or monetary gains are involved, the case will be referred to the transplant team, which would then conduct its own tests.'
Dr Abdulla said if these tests did not match, the case would be rejected or the prospective donor would be given an option to donate a kidney to the 'most suitable' recipient.
'The idea is to try to ensure as much transparency as possible and to satisfy everyone.'
He said if the committee was satisfied there was no money involved and that the donor and the recipient were otherwise a 'perfect match', the transplant should be allowed.
Dr Abdulla said Dr Al Hamer was very concerned with the latest developments and had expressed a strong desire to take immediate action.
'He is convinced the need to save lives is paramount,' said Dr Abdulla.
Officials would not comment on whether Ms Humood's case would be the first to be considered.
Humood said she was extremely pleased that something was happening, but would be happier once it materialises.
She had earlier told the GDN there were already five people in Bahrain who were willing to donate their kidneys to her, but were turned down by Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) on the basis that 'living unrelated' donations are illegal.
Humood said most of her family members and relatives suffered from kidney ailments of some kind and were unable to offer their organs even if they were otherwise eligible.
She said she did not want to die and wanted to live her life properly.
Humood said she had tried everything and had come up against a wall of bureaucracy and legislation.
She has been to many countries in the region and as far as the Philippines, India and Pakistan, but she has not succeed