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29519: Durban (comment): Kidney Transplants in Haiti? (fwd)

From: Lance Durban <lpdurban@yahoo.com>

Next week's issue of The Economist will include an article on the
worldwide shortage of human kidneys and the experience of Iran, where
the practice of selling kidneys is under the control of the Iranian
Association of Kidney Patients, an NGO.  An interesting article on a
controversial topic, to say the least, but knowing of at least one
person in Haiti who has travelled to Cuba in search of a replacement
kidney, here is a thought for consideration.

First the problem:  Waiting lists for patients needing a kidney
transplant are lengthening in all countries, with the average wait in
the USA now up to 5 years.  Yet, kidneys are among the easiest organ to
transplant, with donated kidneys having a median lifespan of 22 years
in recipients' bodies.  The length and quality of life of the recipient
can be dramatically improved, while given decent after-care, a donor's
risk of dying of kidney disease is hardly affected.  There is a growing
black market composed of desperate patients and unscrupulous middlemen,
who prey on equally desperate people in poor (mostly Asian) countries.

To quote The Economist, some senior figures in the medical world feel
that "as long as some people are determined to obtain kidneys and
others are desperate enough to sell them, the trade will be impossible
to stop--so it makes better sense to regulate the business than drive
it underground."

So, what if the Haitian legislature passed legislation legalizing the
practice of selling kidneys, subject to strict controls and permitted
only in approved facilities in-country?  (I can hear Corbetters
screaming already).

Let's count the advantages:
 1.  Greatly increase the number of visitors to Haiti each year
        bringing in hard currency for the many job-creating
        support services needed for the program.
 2.  Opportunity to show these visitors a clean, and well-run
        operation enhancing Haiti's image at least for the
        visiting recipients.
 3.  Give desperate Haitian and participating third country
        donors the opportunity to generate cash with relatively
        little personal risk.

Now, I'm certain that one can also cite disadvantages, but I'll let
someone else tackle that.

(And once Corbetters have beaten this topic to death, maybe we can
consider a chain of clean and efficiently run nursing homes in Haiti.
There is an excellent one over on Route Frere, Petionville that greatly
surpasses the average nursing home in the USA at a fraction of the

Lance Durban