Fewer people are willing to donate kidneys despite a surge in transplant requirements in the country, the Kenya Renal Association (KRACON) says.
The association sounded the alarm over the organ shortage, citing a biting shortage of local kidney donors even as the number of Kenyans seeking transplant services continues to surge.
According to Kracon National Chairman Dr Ahmed Twahir, the number of Kenyans seeking kidney disease transplant has steadily risen to approximately 100 patients annually up from 20 for the last 10 years. “The number of transplants in the country has increased. Ten years ago, we were doing 20 transplants, now we are doing 80-100 in a year. There are more hospitals doing transplants in the country,” said Twahir during a kidney specialists conference in Mombasa on Saturday.
Kenyatta, Aga Khan and MP Shah hospitals in Nairobi have the capacities to conduct kidney transplants. The association says Kenyans need not to seek transplants abroad.
With Sh300,000, a person can undergo a kidney transplant at the Kenyatta National Hospital compared to more than Sh1.5 million in India.
Official data shows that about four million Kenyans have some form of kidney ailment. The disease is mostly caused by other conditions that put a strain on kidneys.
The medics are now seeking government guidance on how Kenyans can donate kidneys without selling them.
Dr Twahir said the only area Kenya cannot rival India is the ease with which a patient can buy a kidney or get a donor.
“We are experiencing shortage of kidney donors, the problem is because under Kenyan laws, a person can only donate a kidney and not sell it. Once you are caught selling a kidney you are arrested and charged or subjected to hefty fines of upto Sh10 million,” he said.
According to Dr Twahir, similar number of patients seeking dialysis services within public hospitals has risen from 300 to 3,000 per year. An urgent governmental intervention is needed to suppress the killer disease, he said.
Dr George Moturi, the chairman of KRACON’s scientific committee, said Kenyans pay more for kidney treatment abroad even as the government continued to invest on health facilities in the country.
“We need to create an exit plan for dialysis, and that is transplantation. If you don’t transplant, your patients will be on dialysis for lifetime,” said Moturi.
Joab Wako, who has undergone kidney transplant, wants the government to offer NHIF services to patients undergoing post treatment medication.