Rwanda strives to lower number of patients referred abroad for organ transplants

KIGALI, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Rwanda is set to significantly lower the number of patients referred abroad for organ transplants after parliament passed a law regulating the sector, the Rwandan Ministry of Health said Thursday.

The legislation regulating the use of the human body, organs, tissues, cells, and products of the human body for therapeutic, educational, or scientific purposes was passed last month by the Rwandan parliament.

"This marks a key milestone and significant progress towards the implementation of organ transplant surgery services in Rwanda. This law will enable the performance of lifesaving medical procedures for many patients affected by terminal organ failure, within the country," the ministry said in a statement.

The law stipulates that the minimum required age for donors of organs, tissues and products of the human body is 18 years, who must be adequately informed about the dangers and benefits.

"By authorizing transplant surgery services through ensuring a legal framework is in place, Rwanda hopes to significantly lower the number of patients who are referred abroad for organ transplants," the statement said.

Over the past eight years, Rwanda referred nearly 70 patients abroad for kidney transplants at a cost of more than 800 million Rwandan francs (about 718,044 U.S. dollars), according to official data.

The ministry said efforts are underway to upgrade King Faisal Hospital's infrastructure and equipment in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, in a bid to enhance its capacity to perform kidney transplant procedures and other highly specialized medical services.

It stressed improving service delivery will be expanded to other teaching hospitals and health facilities across the country.

The ministry noted that the introduction of kidney transplant procedures in Rwanda would come as the first of many organ transplants in various specialized medical services to be carried out in the country.

The development reinforces Rwanda's bid to become a regional medical hub and attract healthcare investors who may support the development of other specialized healthcare services in the country, according to officials.

The ministry has indicated that the government would set up organ banks that will preserve these essential organs, especially those harvested from people who have passed on.

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