DOH sees need to strengthen organ transplant education campaign

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/1 October) – A health official emphasized the need to strengthen the education campaign on the benefit of organ transplant, like kidney.

This was emphasized Saturday by Dr. Joshua Brillantes, head of the center for health development of the Department of Health (DOH) regional office who represented Health Secretary Enrique Ona in the launching program of kidney transplant in this city.

Ona tasked Brillantes as the DOH chief has to attend to pressing concerns in Manila.

Brillantes said that inadequate patient education is a key obstacle to live donor kidney transplant since patients, as well as the family members, mistakenly believe that dialysis is as good as transplantation.

“Indeed this is not true. Live donor kidney transplant is a much better treatment for kidney failure than any other and should be the first choice of treatment,” Brillantes stressed.

“Families of patients with kidney failure often do not come forward to donate a kidney for transplant, even to someone they care for, out of fear that donating a kidney may be dangerous,” he added.

He said there are two possible sources of kidney transplant – the live donors and cadaveric donors.

Live donors are people who are conscious that they are to donate one of their two kidneys to a recipient, in most cases to a family member, while cadaveric donors are those who have been considered brain dead and the consent to take out the kidney is done by the family.

But Brillantes said that recipients of live donor live longer, have better kidney function and fewer complications than their cadaveric kidney transplant counterparts.

Live donor recipients live as long as 32 years from the date of the transplantation while the survival years of the cadaveric donor recipient may only be 21 years, Brillantes said.

“This is because kidneys for live donor kidney transplants tend to come from very healthy donors,” Brillantes added.

The first ever kidney transplant in the region was held today (Oct. 1) at the Western Mindanao Medical Center (WMMC), a private tertiary hospital operating in this city.

The recipient is a 45-year-old male kidney patient from Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte and the kidney donor is the patient’s 41-year-old cousin.

WMMC Renal Transplant Unit head Dr. Michael Abutazil said both the donor and the recipient were admitted at WMMC two days before the procedure.

It was Abutazil, along with two surgeons from Cagayan de Oro City, who brought up the idea of organ transplant to the management of WMMC.

He said he thought of the idea since he noticed an increase in the number of patients diagnosed with renal failure as the dialysis centers in this city have increased to five in 2009 from two in 2003.

In Zamboanga City alone, Abutazil revealed that there are 1,000 patients diagnosed of renal failure who need kidney transplant.

Aside from the increasing number, he brought up the idea as the DOH is advocating the decentralization of organ transplant – from Metro Manila, it is being brought to the provinces, like Cagayan de Oro, Davao and Zamboanga in Mindanao.

Abutazil, who has done 14 organ transplant procedures at Medical City in Pasig City, said the opening of the RTU at WMMC will pave the way for future organ transplants at a much lesser cost. (MindaNews)