KNH Clarifies On Organ Donation And The Rules And Process Of Donating


Kenyans have been curious about the price of a kidney at the Kenyatta National Hospital, forcing the hospital to respond announcing that they do not buy body organs.

Woe unto you, who wants to put your organ up for sale because KNH can only do a kidney transplant on relatives.

This means that you can only donate a kidney to a member of your nuclear or extended family with whom you are related by birth, one whom you are related by legal adoption or a spouse with proof of marriage.

“At KNH we only do transplants among people with emotional relationships. We believe that where there is no relation, the donation is motivated by finances. You cannot commodity human organs, who determines how much it is,” said Sister Nancy Wang’ombe, the Transplants Coordinator at KNH.

The decision to limit donations among family members was reached through the Istanbul declaration.

Citizen Digital takes you through what happens at the newly launched Centre for Kidney Diseases and Organ Transplantation at the Kenyatta National Hospital.

How is a donor identified?

The process of identifying a donor starts with calling a patient’s family members, educating them on the kidney transplants process, the health and financial implications involved.

Prospective donors are identified from the family members, and they are scored using various demographics before settling on the suitable candidate.

Older persons are more preferred to donate kidneys, as long as they meet the medical thresholds.

“A kidney transplant can last up to 20 years, if today we pick a 55-year-old, when we need another kidney we will go to the younger one,” says Sr Wang’ombe.

The identified donor is then taken through another session of counselling alongside the recipient, thereafter the first stages of the process which takes close to 6 weeks begins.

The tests could cost up to Ksh.200,000 and NHIF could pay for the surgery.

“There is a medication that the recipient should take after the surgery, it is the most important to ensure the Kidney is not rejected,” Sr Wang’ombe says.

Before a donor is identified as a best match, they are taken through a series of tests that are scored out of 6.

How a Kidney transplant surgery is done.

At the Kenyatta National Hospital, two rooms have been set up to enable a donor and recipient undergo the surgery concurrently.

Daniel Mwangi, a transplant theatre nurse at KNH narrates what happens when both the donor and recipient are undergoing the surgeries.

“After harvesting a graft (kidney) we clean it in another room before taking it to the recipient. The time between when we harvest and when we clean the kidney is the most important so that we do not lose it. It should be as short as possible, between 30-45 seconds,” he said.

The facility has a 17-bed transplant ward, where donors and recipients recuperate from.

Before a transplant is done, a board of health practitioners convene to analyse the compatibility of a donor and recipient and ensure there are less risks as possible. One transplant is done per week.

Other than kidneys, the Hospital is currently exploring Cornea transplants, and will soon be able to do liver splits transplants. 

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