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No kidney transplants anytime soon

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No kidney transplants anytime soon by Kenyans247(1): Fri 13, November, 2020 02:30pm
What you need to know:
The patients would require the drugs, known as immunosuppressants, which pacify the body’s immune system reaction to the new organ, reducing chances that it will be rejected for the rest of their life.
Dr John Ngigi, a nephrologist and the head of Kenyatta National Hospital’s Renal Unit said that patients who have transplants live a longer, healthier life and since they shut down the programme when Covid-19 was first reported in the country, they have had to turn away at least 15 patients.
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The lobby at the Renal Unit of Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) teems with patients, who have waited for at least seven months to get a new kidney.

Seated next to the patients undergoing dialysis are donors, who hope to go through rigorous tests that will enable the recipients of the kidneys to live a full life once they go through the transplant surgery in January next year.

The 40 donors and their recipients are taken through a learning process by doctors and nursing counsellors, who make them aware of what the process will entail and how much it will cost to carry out the transplant.

Right from the start, the donors are asked whether their blood group matched with their recipients and notified that, if that is not the case, then they have to look for new donors.

Ms Tabitha Matekwa, one of the nursing counsellors’ service unit at KNH, informs them that the process would cost Sh500,000 which includes Sh300,000 deposit for the hospital and Sh200, 000 for the tests that will be carried out on the donor and recipient.


Immunosuppressants
She said the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) will foot a further Sh500,000 and the patients will also need drugs worth Sh30,000-Sh40,000 in the first year of receiving the new kidney.

The patients would require the drugs, known as immunosuppressants, which pacify the body’s immune system reaction to the new organ, reducing chances that it will be rejected for the rest of their life.

MrJohn Gikonyo, who has had a pre-existing kidney condition, expressed his dissatisfaction with the national insurer, saying, the fact that they don’t cover medication the recipients need is tragic.

“The cost of dialysis, which is covered by NHIF, is far higher than that of drugs needed by someone who has had a kidney transplant in the long run, and yet they still refuse to change their policy on the matter, which I think is short-sighted,” he said.

Longer, healthier life

Dr John Ngigi, a nephrologist and the head of Kenyatta National Hospital’s Renal Unit said that patients who have transplants live a longer, healthier life and since they shut down the programme when Covid-19 was first reported in the country, they have had to turn away at least 15 patients.

“Everyday we have patients coming in to inquire about the programme and the demand has gone up... I can say that many patients, who’ve had to be on dialysis because they could not get a transplant have had bad outcomes,” he said.

Screening the donor
The facility has a huge backlog, and preparation of surgeries would take six weeks, hence patients have to wait until January to have transplants done, which have been scheduled at three per week, Dr Ngigi said.

He added that, the evaluation would involve screening of the donor to ensure they have very minimal risk of kidney failure.

The donors are not allowed by law to sell their kidneys or attach any value to it.

knasibo@ke.nationmedia.com

https://nation.africa/kenya/news/no-kidney-transplants-anytime-soon-3020004

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