The Ugandan Parliament is considering a bill that would make it possible for the first time to perform organ transplants in this East African country. A small revolution that would transform the lives of thousands of people waiting for surgery.
If the legislation is approved, Uganda will join African countries such as South Africa, Tunisia, and Kenya, which already have the regulations and health facilities in place to allow organ transplants to take place in their countries.
India and Turkey are currently the most popular destinations for Ugandan kidney patients. Only close relatives are allowed to be donors and travel must be approved by the Uganda Medical Council - to avoid organ trafficking or people being forced to offer their organs.
If Parliament approves the new measure, the process should be simpler and the cost of surgery and recovery could be reduced to about $8,000 instead of $30,000 for a transplant abroad.
Proponents of the measure say Uganda needs special legislation to create a safe framework, subject to strict regulation, to ensure there is no abuse. Among them is Dr. Kharya, from the Centre for Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy in India. According to him, Uganda already has a good base in terms of a blood bank and laboratories.
The proposal calls for the creation of a national waiting list of organ recipients and the establishment of specialized transplant centers throughout the country. An operating theatre has already been set up at the main national hospital in Mulago, Kampala.
Organ banks will also be established for those who wish to donate, not just kidneys.