Kidneys, kidnappers and organ donations

“Is it a move to gain (more) support from the Catholic Church?” This was the first thought that came to mind when I heard the news that government had suddenly imposed a moratorium on kidney transplants to foreigners.

Taking a second look, this is one good move made by the government. Finally, something positive has been done to the age-old issue of organ trafficking in the country, even foreigners refer to us as not only the “texting (SMS) capital of the world” but also, “kidney transplant capital of the world.” Iba talaga ang Pinoy!

However, we must be vigilant if we ever are to, in the words of Ducky Paredes, “clean up the kidney trade“.

Dr. Leonardo de Castro of the UP Bioethics program, in an interview by abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak explains why:

“kidney transplantation is not part of medical tourism, the opportunity for foreign patients to come to have their transplants done in the Philippines remains.”

De Castro said the new DOH policy must be viewed in light of developments on organ donation around the world.

In India, Pakistan, and China, De Castro said new laws have been passed to control the selling of organs.

If these new laws are able to limit kidney transplants in these countries, De Castro said the Philippines could end up receiving more foreign transplant patients.

De Castro said he has received reports that commercial kidney brokers are now looking at the Philippines as the alternative venue for their clients.

Of course the organ trade in the Philippines has spawned a “lucrative” black market long before this new policy of the DOH came out. Let me take you back to this article by John Einar Sandvand written way back in 1999 which was aptly titled, “Kidneys for Sale.” Then there’s that award-winning documentary by Jessica Soho of the same title that some of you may have already seen. The most latest account is in the form of special report on the Inquirer.net that says keen demand is what fuels global trade in body parts.

First it was rice, now organs! What’s next? Human souls? Kidding aside, awareness is the first key to addressing this issue both from the side of the government and of the people. Fortunately, this issue has been well documented and awareness has reached good levels. Good enough that it has caught attention of the government resulting in a policy change. For the people’s part, we must be vigilant in making sure the government follows through with concrete and practical steps that will remedy this issue.

However, I think things will speed up once the occupant of Malacanang is replaced because after all, kidney transplant to foreigners is part of its Medical Tourism Program in which organ transplant (kidney, bone marrow, liver) service being marketed worldwide.

Kidnappers and organs

Speaking of awareness and organ transplants, I cannot help but think that the hoax about a gang roaming around Southern Tagalog in a van abducting kids and taking their internal organs for patients needing transplants were connected to this recent turn of events.

The hoax spread like wildfire via text messages from gullible people who believed almost everything they read on the mobile phones nowadays. At its height of notoriety, student movements calling for truth and accountability, ultimately calling on GMA to resign or be ousted were also at its peak.

A good friend of mine was smart enough to see the connection; in a text message to me he said that it was a ploy to scare young kids from going outside and parents from letting their children to go outside as well. This would thin the crowds being amassed by the student movement and thus weaken their efforts of catalyzing change in our present times.

I must say that it, if it were true, has been quite effective. Parents became more strict with their children’s outdoor trips, the public has been distracted from NBN-ZTE controversy and all worried about expensive rice, summer getaways and the new PBB teen edition.

But, the fight is not yet over. Not by a long shot. Because the usurper is still in Malacanang, we’re still importing rice instead of producing it which is why poor Pinoys are still willing to sell their organs.

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