Indian specialist advises MPs on organ transplant

Charles Ayume chaired the meeting where Kharya appeared on zoom.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | An Indian bone marrow transplant expert, Dr. Gaurav Kharya, briefed MPs on what is needed for Uganda to start organ transplant.

Kharya is Clinical Manager at the Apollo Center for Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy in India.

According to Kharya, Uganda has the basic minimum to start transplants for basic cases. He highlighted the presence of a fully functional blood bank, laboratories and expertise as crucial for starters.

“You need a blood bank that has all the infrastructure, efficient machines that are available, and really good labs,” Kharya said.

Kharya said so during a zoom meeting with the Health Committee on Thursday, August 25, 2022 where he gave his views on the organ transplant bill.

Regarding the expertise required, he said he was aware of and proud of the quality of training offered in Uganda for pediatric hemato-oncology.

It is a branch of medicine where bone marrow transplantation is used to treat blood cancers such as leukemia.

“I know that Uganda has very good training in pediatric hemato-oncology. I am even delighted that Africans like Nigeria are taking this training from Uganda,” Kharya said.

He advised that doctors interested in performing organ transplants undergo dedicated training to understand the process.

For those who are financially strong, Kharya advised them to consider spending time in specialized transplant centers in India.

Dr. Kharya also advised on some of the provisions of the bill that have generated controversy from stakeholders who appeared before the committee.

For example, he said that in India, children as young as six years old can be donors to their peers, contrary to the provision aimed at deterring children under 18 from donating an organ, cell or tissue.

Hope Grania Nakazibwe, MP for Mubende District, questioned whether the Indian government compensates organ donors who may experience side effects during the process as proposed by stakeholders in Uganda.

“Do you have any provisions that guide you when you treat a donor? Who compensates them in the event of complications? Nakazibwe asked.

Kharya said that the Indian government does not run any compensation program but runs a comprehensive awareness campaign on organ donation and transplantation.

Kharya said his government subsidizes services for poor patients by covering 50-60% of the transplant costs.

He added that there are non-governmental organizations involved in raising funds for people who need transplant services.

Kharya urged the committee to plan a comprehensive awareness campaign on organ, cell and tissue donation to get a full and ready register of voluntary donors.

“Once you complete the bill, launch an organ donation awareness campaign to create a volunteer donor registry and tell them the scientific benefits,” he said.

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