Law now governs human organ and tissue transplantation including blood transfusion

Last Updated on Monday, 24 January 2022, 21:23 by Denis Chabrol

Guyana now has law that governs human organ transplantation and provides for stiff penalties to punish anyone engaged in the trade in organs.

This Bill makes it compulsory for anyone who would be donating must give consent. Consent is a fundamental component of this Bill,” Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony said in his contribution to the Human Organ and Tissue Transplant Bill 2021.

The legislation was passed despite repeated calls by the opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For  Change (APNU+AFC) for the Bill to be referred to a bipartisan parliamentary select committee.

The Bill also allows for the donation of organs after the patient dies.  In cases where patients die once the individual’s consent or authorization is ascertained or where this is unknown, the next of kin has to indicate that they wish to proceed with the donation.

The legislation now also ensures that blood transfusion is done by consent, by an adult who is of sound mind. The National Blood Transfusion Service now falls under this legislation.

This Bill creates a new offence for anyone who attempts to trade in cells, tissues, biofluids, blood or organs,” Health Minister Anthony said 

According to him, the National Donor Transplant Registry will be established to manage the process effectively and a Human Organ and Tissue Transplant Agency will oversee all future transplants of cells, biofluids, tissues and organs in Guyana.

Government says the registry will have a list of the persons who have consented to donations and another list of patients who require these donations. It prescribes the eligibility for live adult donors before they are enrolled into the registry, depending on whether their donation is a regenerative or non-regenerative organ. 

According to the Human Organ and Tissue Transplant Bill 2021, live minor donors or their parents or guardians can only consent to remove a regenerative organ. Further a child can only donate a regenerative organ after an assessment by an Independent Assessment Committee. In keeping with international best practices, unless the Independent Assessment Committee unanimously agrees, the donation cannot proceed. 

Attorney General Anil Nandlall told the House that Guyana’s  Human Organ and Tissue Transplant Bill 2021 was drafted drawing on provisions of similar laws in several other countries. 

Even in the absence of human organ transplant, hospitals in Guyana have been conducting kidney and cornea transplants for several years.

The Health Minister said the legislation would lead to the development of a local Eye Bank, which would recover and store ocular tissue from donors for transplant to eligible recipients. “This measure will assist hundreds of persons in regaining their sight at an affordable cost,” he said.