February 4, 2023

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Lagos To Regulate Organ Harvest, Transplantation Practice As Stakeholders Seek Amendment To Bill

The Lagos State Government has begun the process of regulating organ harvest and transplantation through a bill that would create a department for it’s regulation at the state Ministry of Health.

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The bill entitled, “Lagos State Organ Harvest And Transplation Bill” went through public hearing at the Lagos State House of Assembly on Wednesday June 30.

The bill made provisions for the establishment of a department in the Ministry of Health to be known as the Organ Harvest and Transplation Department.

The department is to advise the state government on all matters relating to organ harvest, transplantation and preservation.

The Department will also formulate and develop state strategies, guidelines and protocols for medical transplant and harvest in the state.

Contributing to the bill, a member of the editorial board of Thisday Newspaper, who is also a lawyer, Mr. Sanni Ekpowusi advised that there should be a specific definition of the organs to be captured, while alleging that some female students of the University of Lagos market their embryo eggs.

Ekpowusi also suggested that members of the authorisation committee should include Imams, clergies, psychologists, medical doctors and lawyers.

He stated that any organ that can lead to the death of the donor should not be allowed for transplantation or harvesting, adding that members of the authorization committee could be taken to court, while people might decline to donate or receive organs on grounds of religion and culture.

Also speaking, Dr. Amisu Mumuni, Chairman of Medical Consultants Association of Nigeria, LASUTH said that members of the authorising committee should be professionals.

Professor Awodunsi, First Vice President of Transplant Association of Nigeria stated that they had been working with the Ministry of Justice on the issue for a long time, and that the law will regulate organ harvesting and transplanting in the state.

“It is a step in the right direction. A regulatory body is being set up for the first time to regulate organ harvesting and transplantation in the country.

“None had existed in Nigeria in the past and it has provided a gap to many things. It’s a good starting point for regulating Transplantation.

“But I want to advise that the department should be independent. The membership of the committee should be increased,” he said.

Dr. Bodunrin Oshunkomaiya, a blood transfusion consultant said that it was important to indicate the organs that were being discussed and that bone marrow transplant should be included, adding that ovaries and embryos are also part of the organs.

She said that the authorisation committee should be very dynamic, and that there should be a member that knows about a particular transplant in the committee.

According to her, private hospitals should be included in the transplant as there are facilities for bio-bank in some private hospitals.

Mrs. Titi Ekosa from 24 Center, an NGO, said that there was no space for community participation in the bill .

Ekosa stressed that community people had a lot of information about organ harvesting, and that they should be accommodated in the authorization committee.

“There is no awareness about the issue as this is very important. A lot of people need to understand why they are doing the transplant. This would help them to make informed decision on the donation of their organs before they die,” she said.

Dr. Abiola Idowu, Executive Secretary of Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency said that there should be format for authorising the organs of people and that there should be a sworn affidavit of the person authorising the harvesting.

Dr. Ajibola Keshinro, a psychiatrist and medical director of the General Hospital, Apapa said that the topic should be changed because there are so many things involved.

Keshinro said that the bill should talk about cells too and that it is not only the organs that are transplanted.

He said that people having mental health should also be considered in the whole process and thst there is need to include a psychiatrist in the authorisation committee.

Earlier in his keynote address, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, represented by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni urged the people to make their input on organ harvest and transplant.

Obasa said that the objective of the bill is to make sure that there is no illegal organ transplant or harvest.

“We also want to make sure that organs are available to those who need them and ensure that the best practice is observed in organ transplant in Lagos State.

“We are gathered here to deliberate and meditate on the bill before the House.

“The bill seeks to create a department on transplanting and harvesting of human organs in the state ministry of health.

“It will create a system to stop the bad practices on organ transplant and harvest. It is meant to criminalise unethical malpractices and stop the practice of transplanting human organs illegally.

“The House of Representatives once came up with a bill to prevent illegal sales of human organs,” he said.

He however said that the need of human organs for medical purposes is sacrosanct and that the Bill will introduce structural practices in the profession.

“We need to propagate safe medical practice. The bill is credibly designed such that it has been divided into seven parts. It is very germaine and the quality of the law will depend on your contributions through oral addresses and memoranda,”, he said .

In his welcome address, the Chairman of the House Committee on Health, Hon. Akeem Sokunle said that the bill was long overdue due to the sales in human organ by unscrupulous elements.

Sokunle said that it is meant to regulate the harvest of human organ and to ensure that the proper process is followed in transplanting human organs.

State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, who was at the event, said that the demand for organ transplantation was rising because of improved use of advanced technology, adding that there is need for the government to regulate the practice so as to prevent quackery.

“Increase in demand for organ transplantation makes the government to put in place regulatory measures. We will not be doing things that is below the global standard either on the side of the donor or the recipient.

While doing the overview of the Bill, the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade said that it was not all hospitals that would have the privilege to remove or transplant organs.

“However, before transplanting is done, the organ must have been harvested.

“There are penals for doing anything that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Bill. Whoever has organ failure will have access to where they are available. We want to make Lagos State, where conducts of human beings are regulated with laws,” he said.

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