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Kampala’s Quest to Provide Organ Transplants

Uganda’s parliament is scrutinising a proposed law that would enable organ transplants to happen in the country for the first time, transforming the lives of thousands hoping for operations. Uganda would be joining a short list of African countries, including South Africa, Tunisia and Kenya, that have both the regulations and health facilities for organ transplants to be possible within their borders. At the moment India and Turkey are the most popular destinations for Ugandan kidney patients. Only close relatives are allowed to be donors and trips have to be approved by the Uganda Medical Board – to prevent organ trafficking or people being coerced to offer their organs. Those backing it say Uganda needs special legislation to create a safe framework under strict regulation to make sure there is no abuse. The proposal includes the creation of a national waiting list of organ recipients as well as the establishment of specialised transplant centres around the country. An operating theatre has already been set up at the main national hospital in Mulago, Kampala. Organ banks will also be created for those who want to donate – and not just for kidneys. About 100 Ugandan health workers, including surgeons, nurses and post-surgery specialists have already been trained abroad, mostly in carrying out kidney transplantations. Despite the hope that this could bring, there will still be a waiting list and the need to raise money.