Some high-profile nephrologists from the University Hospital of the West Indies are suggesting that the way to go in fighting the deadly renal diseases is to generate a public-awareness programme aimed at sensitising Jamaicans to the advantages of kidney transplants over dialysis.
Consultant internist and nephrologist Dr Adedamola Soyibo yesterday suggested that the authorities need to move to change the thinking of our people to share their organ, a sentiment which was endorsed by director of Caribbean Institute of Nephrology at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Prof Everard N. Barton.
"We need to look at new ways of kidney transplant," asserted Soyibo at a Gleaner Editors' Forum. "One is the cadaver or brain-dead person who is involved in a tragic accidents and the other is from live donation ... . It is not detrimental to the donor," he stressed.
One kidney is enough
Soyibo stressed that there was an urgent need for Jamaicans to realise that persons with two healthy kidneys can do without one and live healthy lives. "I have two kidneys and I can live with one and so I can donate one kidney. We need to get used to the whole notion of donating an organ."
He referred to Panama, which he said has a 'good donor pool'. "People there are willing to give a kidney so ailing persons are benefiting more from transplant. "So in Jamaica, we could start with the "brain dead" as we have a lot of people in motor vehicle accidents or gunshot wounds … those are tremendous sources of kidney transplant," he stressed.
Added Soyibo: "If people are sensitised and they sport a wristband that says, 'I am an organ donor,' if they are involved in an unfortunate event such as a motor vehicle accident or gunshot wound and that person is deemed to be brain dead, it makes it easy to carry out organ procurement in a case like that."
He, however, acknowledged that the likelihood of a "black market' could surface but said this could be thwarted by the use of international guidelines and laws.
Barton agreed: "It is far cheaper to transplant patient than to keep them on dialysis and some are on dialysis for up to 35 years and become cheaper as the years go by."