The Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital is to set up a Urology and Kidney Transplant Centre at an estimated cost of $10 million to address the needs of people with kidney problems.
“Hopefully, within two years we should set up our own transplant centre here to carry out kidney transplant for the numerous Ghanaians who need it,” the Chief Executive of the hospital, Prof. Nii Otu Nartey, told the Daily Graphic after a news conference to announce the performance of kidney transplant on three persons at the hospital.
Three successful transplants were carried out this week. In the first case, a sister donated one of her kidneys to her brother, while a woman donated a kidney to her husband in the second case, with a father donating a kidney to his son in the third.
More than 200 Ghanaians across the country need kidney transplant, many of whom have had to depend on renal dialysis to survive. A dialysis costs 100 euros per session and kidney patients require three sessions of dialysis a week.
Prof Nartey said although the hospital was yet to have a legal framework put in place for such an exercise, the management was now developing documents to be sent to Parliament to give a legal backing to it.
“Already there is transfusion. Once you can transfuse blood from one person to another, you are looking at the means of taking something from one human being to another.
So there is that legal framework there.
“We now need to look at taking one organ from one person to another.
We will send the documents to Parliament soon,” he said, adding that the Attorney-General would have to review the legal documents.
Prof Nartey said although the country was using the legal framework of the Commonwealth of Nations which was permissible in such exercises, it needed to have its own legal framework in which Parliament would have to determine which precautions to take.
He said the hospital wanted Parliament to put certain structures in place to determine who could donate to whom, which body parts could be donated, among other things.
He appealed to corporate bodies and public-spirited individuals to support the hospital in setting up the urology and kidney transplant centre, since the cost of putting people on dialysis was too high.
Prof Nartey said the hospital would train its own staff in the execution of the task, adding that in the course of that a team from the United Kingdom would continue to come in to assist.
The Chief Surgeon of the Birmingham University Hospital, Mr Andrews Ready, said the last three days had been inspirational to the 11-member team from the UK and their Ghanaian counterparts.
The team assisted their Ghanaian counterparts in the kidney transplants.
Dr Ready paid tribute to the management and staff of Korle-Bu for their support in carrying out the transplants which were a major success in the country.
He said almost all the equipment that was used in the transplants were from Korle-Bu.
The Minister of Health, Major Courage Quashigah (retd), who commended the team from the UK for the exercise, underscored the need for Ghanaians to live healthy lifestyles to prevent contracting diseases.
“Prevention is better and cheaper than cure,” he said, and thanked Ecobank and Cal Bank for sponsoring the trip of the team from the UK.
He said health education and nutrition should be put in the school curricula so that children could develop the habit of living healthy lives.
The Chairman of the Ethics Committee in respect of the transplant, Prof Andrews Ayeetey, said the hospital had to use the Human Tissue Act of England and Wales for the transplant.
The Head of the Dialysis Unit at Korle-Bu, Dr Charlotte Osafo, also commended the teamwork displayed by both the UK team and their Ghanaian counterparts.
The three donors and three recipients who underwent the exercise looked hearty and well when the sector minister, together with the team of doctors and staff from Korle-Bu and journalists, visited them.
They expressed their gratitude to the team which carried out the exercise and appealed to Ghanaians not to be afraid of donating their kidneys, since kidneys were vital to the survival of people who needed them.
Story by Emmanuel Bonney