Stricter laws, supervision on organ donation

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

Because of unethical practices and graft surrounding organ donation, which for some has led to human trafficking, the lower house has introduced House Bill 1414 to protect both the living and the dead organ donors from such eventualities.

 

Rep. Ron Salo, Kabayan partylist and assistant majority leader, said that everyday hundreds of Filipinos are becoming afflicted with end-stage organ failure, with organ transplant as the only chance of survival. The National Kidney and Transplant Institute, in its website, states that kidney diseases, especially end-stage renal diseases, are the seventh leading causes of death among Filipinos.

 

Organ transplantation, while universally accepted as a mode of medical treatment to prolong and improve the quality of lives of patients, is limited due to the expense and shortage of donors.

 

In an effort to encourage and regulate organ donation, the Philippines passed the Organ Donation Act in 1991, authorizing the donation of any or all part of human body after death. Yet, organ donation has been surrounded by cultural, moral, and ethical issues and thus there continues to be a lack of donors in order to implement the said Act.

 

Some people have invariably resorted to other sources of graft, such as living donors. But these has also been plagued by issues of exploitation of the poor and human trafficking.

 

In 2008, the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism was adopted by States-Parties, highlighting the need for all countries to develop laws and guidelines to govern organ donation and transplantation activities, and to have a transparent regulatory oversight system that ensures donor and recipient safety and the enforcement of standards and prohibitions on unethical practices.

 

It is imperative therefore that a law be passed to protect the lives of patients by developing a national system of promoting organ donation from both deceased donors and living donors and to protect living donors from exploitation, abuse, and human trafficking. 

 

House bill 1414 seeks to strengthen the Organ Donation Act of 1991 by ensuring the availability of organs and tissues for donation to patients who are in need, while providing stricter regulation and more careful supervision of the practice of organ donation.

 

HB 1414 supplements the Organ Donation Act of 1991 while maintaining many of its provisions, but significantly strengthening it by adding additional provisions.

 

The Philippine Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Program is created to provide the overall direction and system of implementation of organ donation and transplantation in the country, through the Philippine Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Board under the Department of Health (DOH).

 

The board is mandated to develop and implement policies on organ donation and transplantation within the framework of Philippine laws and serve as the overall implementing body of the organ donation and transplantation program in the country.

 

HB 1414 creates the Philippine Network for Organ Sharing (PhilNOS) under the board to perform the following functions:

 

a.  Oversee and facilitate donation and organ transplantation involving deceased and living donors in the country;

b.   Act as the central coordinating body to ensure that all organs from deceased and living donors are allocated according to established criteria; and

c.   Promote organ donation from a deceased or living donor

 

HB 1414 encourages the creation of Organ Recovery Organizations to be responsible for identifying, evaluating and obtaining organ donations from deceased donors from hospitals, including the preservation and transportation of such organs.

 

A National Transplant Ethics Committee under the DOH shall be established to formulate national ethical standards or guidelines on organ donation and transplantation for approval by the Philippine Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Board.

 

HB 1414 retains the provisions in the old law as to who may donate organs, who may be an organ receiver or donee, the manner in which a donation is executed, manner of delivery to a specific legatee, and amendment or revocation of legacy, as well as the rights and duties of the parties after the death of the donor.

 

It also retains the provisions on who is authorized to remove and transplant organs.

 

HB 1414 mandates Organ Donor Cards with which a donor may also indicate the willingness to donate an organ, tissue, or part thereof either through a donor card or the government-issued identification (ID) cards and licenses.

 

HB 1414 establishes a procedure in the absence of a donation and a protocol for organ donations from a living person, as well as provision for assistance and protection.

 

It also strengthens the information drive mandated in the old law by incorporating it in the health subjects in our education system.

 

 

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