A Consultant Nephrologist, Prof. Jacob Awobusuyi, has appealed to government at all levels to encourage cadaveric organ transplantation to save more lives of people with organ failure in Nigeria.
Awobusuyi, Dean, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM) made the appeal while delivering the 72nd Inaugural Lecture of the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, on Tuesday.
Theme of the lecture was: “The Body is the Hero: The Expedition of a Guardian of Trouble Kidneys Through the Valley of Death”.
The nephrologist, who deals with the diagnosis and management of kidney disease, said that cadaveric organ transplantation entailed harvesting an organ from a brain or cardiac dead donor and transplanting the organ into a recipient with organ failure.
“A single donor can save up to eight lives, however, cadaveric transplantation program is intricately complex.
“It transcends single centre operations which involves a lot of collaborative efforts and required major regulatory and monitoring activities by agencies not involved with the day-to-day transplant process.
“Most importantly, cadaveric organ transplantation requires community acceptability,” Awobusuyi said.
He said that cadaveric organ transplantation were hampered by religious beliefs, cultural traditions, social norms and ethical principles.
“If the generality of Nigerians realise that a single donor can save up to eight lives, then the benefits of having a cadaveric transplant programme in the country would be immediately obvious.
“A major challenge in transplantation is the existence of illegal organ sales and trafficking in such countries as India and Pakistan.
” The extent of this problem in Nigeria is unknown but many indicators point to its presence here in Nigeria and having strictly regulated transplantation program will minimise such activities,” Awobusuyi said.
He said that our kidneys were the perfect heroes in the complex setting of the body with many heroic organs.
“Every single moment of our lives, we continuously generate toxic waste products which the kidneys extract from blood, thereby protecting us from dying from our own internally generated poison.
“When the kidneys fail, the whole body system crashes. Lack of urine production results in swollen body, hypertension, heart problems, weak bones, convulsions and death.
“The kidney can either fail suddenly (Acute Kidney Injury) or slowly (Chronic Kidney Disease).
“In both conditions, the kidney compensates so well that more than 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the kidney function will have been lost before these symptoms develop,” Awobusuyi said.