Egypts organ transplant bill to curb trafficking

CAIRO: Egypt’s parliament has voted by an overwhelming majority to regulate organ transplants in a bid to curb illegal trafficking and tourism over the issue. The law bans commercial trade in organs as well as transplants between Egyptians and foreigners, except in cases of husband and wife. Operations in government hospitals are to be financed by the state.

According to the United Nations, hundreds of

poor Egyptians sell their kidneys and livers every year to buy food or pay off debts. In January, the UN World Health Organisation welcomed the preliminary approval of the law as a significant step towards ending illegal trafficking.

“The approval of this

law is a wonderful step that creates hope for thousands of patients who have been waiting a long time for live-saving transplant operations,” Hussein A Gezairy, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said at the time.

The bill had sparked controversy, particularly over the definition of death. The new law states that a three-member panel overseen by the health ministry must determine whether or not the donor is in fact dead through a series of tests. It says removing organs before the panel’s approval will be considered first degree murder.

According to the WHO, an estimated 42,000 people in Egypt are in need of transplants. While most donors are poor and hoping for a better life, not all are volunteers, with grisly accounts of forced organ ‘donations’.