Organs for charity. While physicians support the law on transplantation, the public is afraid of its abuse

The current fall was particularly rich in outrageous laws. The draft law "On the transplantation of organs and other anatomical human materials", initiated by the Ministry of Health was no exception. More precisely, not the entire law, which, I suspect, not so many people have read in its entirety, but only one, though the main paragraph.

"Leave our bodies alone"

Namely, the introduction of the so-called presumption of consent, whereby each person agrees automatically in case of death to give their organs for transplants for those who need it. In general, all the negativism comes down to the phrase "Government is bad and inhuman, hence this innovation will be directed against the people."

In fact, as always, the situation is not so clear. Advocates and lobbyists of the law cite the example of Belarus, which adopted similar law in 2010, and thus last year was able to perform 700 transplantations.

To convince people of the rightfulness and necessity of the law, the Ukrainian Ministry of Health initiated roundtables in all regions involving medics, religious and community leaders. One of those was held recently in Uzhgorod.

Thus, the head of the Health Department of Transcarpathian Regional State Administration Roman Shnitser believes that the new law can contribute to the development of medicine, including transplantation. "The present situation can not satisfy us. Under the old law it is very difficult to find donors. Therefore we significantly lag behind even Russia and Belarus, not to mention Slovakia – the leader in transplantation in Europe – he says.

Of course, in this matter the opinion of the church is important for believers. And in this case, people can be sure: Christianity equates organ donation to beneficence and approves it. The main thing – it has to be voluntary. Both Catholic and Orthodox clerics agree on it.   

Head of Department of Kidney Transplantation of the Institute of Surgery and Transplantology named after A. A. Shalimov of the AMS of Ukraine Ruben Zohrabyan, speaking in Uzhgorod, first pointed out that due to imperfect legislation in force the transplantation in the country is in very poor condition. "For the first time kidney transplantation in Ukraine was performed back in 1933 in Kharkiv. Now the domestic transplantology is in stagnation, – he said. – Every year we need to transplant 1500 kidneys, 1000 hearts. And only about one hundred such operations are actually carried out. Transplantations are carried out in all the neighboring countries, and our citizens are no worse and are entitled to receive help."

"I’m on that side of medicine, where doctors deal with patients who need kidney transplants – continued the head of the Efferent Technology Department of the Institute of Nephrology of the AMS of Ukraine Iryna Dudar. – This patients are on substitution therapy.According to studies conducted in the U.S., the potential percentage of such patients is 16%. I myself understand that I can get into an accident, and I want that in that case my organs would be used for transplants. In our country there is no mechanism to do this. The example of Belarus showed how they have already solved this problem. I am very supportive of this bill. I am a doctor and I do not believe that colleagues can abuse it, because they too have fear of God. In the name of health and life of the nation we should support this bill."

Transcarpathian doctors agree with their Kyiv colleagues. Transcarpathia is no exception, and we have just as many people who need kidney or heart transplant.

"Currently in the region there are 25 registered persons with transplanted organs: 19 – with kidneys, and 6 – with livers. Specifically, six children and 19 adults. 12 kidney transplants were performed in Ukraine, 7 – abroad – the chief nephrologist of the region Vasyl Stryzhak cites the statistics. – Many of our residents go to Slovakia and Hungary to have surgeries done. All transplantations performed abroad used organs taken from dead, among the Ukrainian transplantations, only two used organs taken from dead people, others – used organs taken from family members.

Today 70 of our patients, including one child need kidney transplant. This issue is crucial. Meanwhile, the percentage of survival after transplantation is two times higher than that with the use of hemodialysis. Kidney performs unique functions that can not be emulated with substitution therapy. In addition, the transplanted organ is much better in adapting the patient socially.

The situation with heart diseases is also very poor. As you know, cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in Ukraine. In Transcarpathia there are about 10 thousand such patients. "In fact, the best treatment for all patients is heart transplant. – said the chief doctor of the Transcarpathian Regional Cardiology Clinic Roman Soskyda. – The first heart transplant in the world was performed in 1967. In Ukraine, such operation was conducted for the first time in 1991 in Kyiv. Since then and until now only 6 such surgeries have been done, and last year – none. Heart transplants are not performed because there is no relevant legislation. Although from the technical point of view, they are not that difficult. The only problem in the availability of organs."

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