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DOH bans kidney transplants on foreigners

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) has suspended kidney transplant operations of at least 14 hospitals in the country after breaching the 10 percent limit on operations conducted to foreigners.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the government decided to
impose a “total ban” on foreign transplants since majority of those who
benefited from the kidney transplant are foreigners, adding that this
also resulted in the rampant sale of organs among Filipinos.
This high price is also the reason that many Filipinos are being lured
to sell their kidneys.
“You feast not just on poverty but you feast also on the ignorance (of
the people),” said Duque, adding that he already instructed the National
Center for Mental Health to post in the areas where organ selling is
rampant the posters that would educate the public on the dangers of
selling their organs.
Last month, the DOH revised Administrative Order (AO) 2008-004, also
known as the Revised National Policy on Living Non-Related Donor and
Transplantation and Its Implementing Structures Amending AO 124 issued
in 2002, which calls for a moratorium on organ donation.
But the health secretary said they are amending it once more to
incorporate the resolution passed by the board that orders the total ban
on organ donation.
Duque further noted that the implementing rules and regulations (IRRs)
would also be issued next month upon the completion of the public hearing.
“There has to be an effective enforcement in place and that is why one
of the things the board did during its first meeting, its maiden meeting
was to pass a resolution which will now be submitted to the Department
of Justice (DOJ) to prepare the IRR in support of the provisions in
Republic Act (RA) 9208, which states that it is illegal for anyone to
engage in the sale of human organ. So we need strict enforcement of law
and I’m sure that will stop or lessen if not stop the illegal peddling
of human organ,” Duque said.

Nick Lutero, head of the DOH Legal Division Office, said of the 24
hospitals that were accredited to perform kidney transplant, eight were
slapped with a cease and desist order (CDO) for violating the 10 percent
cap in foreign transplant operations, while six others whose
accreditation expired had been suspended. The remaining 10 are still
being reviewed if they have committed the same violations.

He added that of the eight hospitals that were issued CDO, only one
government institution was included in the list and the rest are private
hospitals.

Among the hospitals that were issued CDO include Vicente Sotto Memorial
Medical Center, Cebu Doctors Hospital, Capitol Medical Center, Cardinal
Santos Medical Center, Victor R. Potenciano Medical Center, Far Eastern
University-NRMF, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical
center, and St. Francis Cabrini Medical Center.

A CDO meantime was also imposed against the National Kidney and
Transplant Institute, St. Luke’s Hospital, Quirino Memorial Medical
Center, Capitol Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital, and Chinese
General Hospital because of pending accreditation.

Ernie Vera, also of the DOH legal department, revealed that in 2006
alone, about 690 patients underwent kidney transplant in the country and
about 63 percent are foreigners and only 37 percent are Filipinos.

“Our records in 2006, of the total 690 transplants, only five percent
came from deceased donors,” Vera said.

He added that majority of the foreigners that availed of the organ
transplant in the country came from the Middle East.

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