By Danny O. Calleja
A medical mission to be conducted here by a foreign humanitarian group in cooperation with the provincial government and a local medical society would give free services to at least 99 former kidney donors in the province of Camarines Norte.
The Asia Against Child Trafficking (Asia ACTS) in cooperation with the Philippine Society of Nephrology (PSN) Bicol Chapter based in Camarines Sur will hold the mission at the Labo District Hospital here on November 22.
At least six nephrologists or kidney specialist — four from Manila and two from Camarines Sur belonging to PSN — will provide the medical services to the 99 persons in the province of Camarines Norte who have earlier sold their kidneys which were transplanted to other persons suffering from kidney disorder.
Gov. Edgardo Tallado said the mission would be similar to what had been recently initiated by the same group in Camarines Sur and Davao where 62 and 14 kidneys vendors respectively were given free medical attentions.
Tallado said he had assigned laboratory staff and nurses from the Provincial Health Office (PHO) while municipal mayor Dindo Pardo here will fielding social workers, and barangay health workers to assist the mission that would provide complete medical check-up including blood, creatinine and urinary tests.
Asia Acts will also conduct public orientation on the situation of organ trafficking in the country and on the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on organ donation that forbid kidney vending, the governor said.
Among the 99 persons in the province who have sold their kidneys, according to a report of the PHO, 68 are from this town; 16 from Sta. Elena, seven from Daet, six from Vinzons and one each from Capalonga and Paracale.
“They were victims of organ trafficking that need appropriate medical attention and proper health services given the delicate physical condition confronting them now,” Tallado said.
The governor is also encouraging other former kidney vendors in the province to come out in the open as they have nothing to be ashamed of because they are only victims as a consequence of poverty.
“The Asia ACTS as well as the provincial government are willing to help them get the medical attention they need and their identities will be concealed should they chose to keep their situation secret,” he said.
Asia ACTS is a regional network organization that works on human trafficking and conducting documentations on kidney vending in the Philippines following reports by the World Health Organization (WHO) that listed the country as one of the global hotspots for organ trafficking along with China, Pakistan, Egypt and Colombia.
The Philippine ranks fifth in the world in cases of organ trafficking behind the government’s implementation of the Department of Health’s (DOH) IRR on organ trafficking under Republic Act 9208 or the anti-trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 that imposes jail terms up to 20 years and fine of as much as P2 million for illegal transplants.
The Act also mandates LGUs to monitor and document cases of trafficking in persons in their areas of jurisdiction.
Prior to the issuance of the new policy, the DOH allowed foreign patients to come to the Philippines for kidney transplants that enabled hundreds of foreigners, such as Arabs, Japanese, Koreans, Americans, to get a kidney from Filipino donors for around P100,000.
It also spawned a black market of organ brokers who went to poor communities to look for donors. Brokers normally earned P20,000 for each donor who qualified for a transplant. The outright cash deal left donors initially happy, but they remained poor since they often quickly used up their money to pay for debts and to meet basic needs.
The DOH said majority of the estimated 500 kidney transplants that have been done annually in the Philippines in recent years were on foreigners suffering from end-stage renal disease.