Indians left in lurch as SL bans foreigner kidney transplants
With the Sri Lankan government closing its doors to foreigners seeking kidney transplants, what was a last resort for those suffering final-stage kidney ailments has now become a journey too far, Pune Mirror reported today.
Of late, Sri Lanka has emerged as a hub for organ donations, with many opting to go there because of the easy connectivity and low cost of transplantation. The ban came following the arrests of three people in Andhra Pradesh for having illegally facilitated 60 kidney transplants. They were allegedly made to travel to Sri Lanka to sell their kidneys and implant them in Indian recipients. Though the Sri Lankan government maintains that the ban is only temporary, patients, who were pinning their hopes on the island nation to get a new lease of life, are now left in the lurch.
Sri Lanka is probably the only country in the world to have flexible rules with regards to "unrelated" kidney donation as it was possible for patients to buy organs there. The patients could either go there with a donor or the hospitals in Sri Lanka would arrange a donor for them. Mirror had earlier reported on how at least a dozen patients from India would fly down to Sri Lanka every month for organ transplant. However, a number of those operated there returned with post-transplant infections.
Dr S Sundar, chief nephrologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, told Mirror, "With the latest ban, things may not be the same for organ donation patients. I have six patients on follow-up from Sri Lanka. One died of complications following surgery after landing in Bangalore due to sepsis; one had a urine leak and our surgeons had a tough time getting the patient back to normal and four are doing well. As of now, one patient is scheduled to go to Sri Lanka for a kidney transplant."
Many who had scheduled a transplant this month in Sri Lanka are making frantic calls to their nephrologists seeking alternatives. Speaking to Mirror, Ravindra Kumar (name changed), the son of a 55-year-old kidney failure patient, said, "My father has been suffering from kidney diseases for several years now. Our nephrologist suggested we go to Sri Lanka and try our luck. We started our research in December and we were ready to go on January 15. But, when we called our agent, we were told to postpone our trip by 15 days due to some issue there. We were assured that it would be sorted out; so, we rebooked our tickets to February 1. Although we have been trying to reach our agent as well as the doctors, their phones are switched off. We have booked our tickets for Rs 37,000 and now the travel agent is not even giving us a refund."
Doctors also fear that this would mean that patients will look at other, although unsafe, destinations like Bangladesh.