At least 10,000 people in the country need kidney transplantation in a year. But due to legal constraints, only around 200 to 250 people can avail the medical facility.
Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, the founder of Gonoshasthaya Kendra, on Wednesday, called for amending the Transplantation of Human Organs Act while addressing a press conference at Gonoshasthaya Nagar Hospital.
The public health activist said the law needs to be amended so that anyone can donate kidneys to patients other than just relatives.
He also suggested forming a government authorisation committee to ensure that the donated kidneys are not traded illegally.
The committee will decide which patient needs a kidney transplantation.
The activist said, "If the government rewards the kidney donor Tk5 lakh by amending the law, it would cost the government Tk500 crore but it can save public money worth Tk300 crore."
"Besides, the efficiency of the doctors in the country will also increase," he added.
The prevalence of non-communicable disease is increasing in the country; kidney disorder is one of them.
In Bangladesh, at least 45,000 people are being affected by kidney disease every year. There are two types of renal kidney treatment - kidney transplantation and dialysis.
Dialysis is a very expensive medical treatment. Kidney transplantation, however, is much less expensive than dialysis. The total cost for kidney transplantation ranges within Tk2 lakh to Tk2.5 lakh only.
In the press conference Dr Zafrullah said that due to legal restrictions, about 1,500 patients go to India and Sri Lanka every year for kidney transplantation. It costs each patient more than Tk30 lakh.
Around 200 patients go to the United States and Singapore for kidney transplantation, where the expenditure is as much as Tk1 crore to Tk3 crore. Bangladeshi patients spend about Tk800 crore a year abroad on kidney transplantation.
The existing law stipulates that only close relatives can be a donor of organs and it defines close relatives like parents, children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives as well as blood-related grandparents, grandchildren, cousins, maternal and paternal uncles and aunts.
Zafrullah said rich people were buying organs from poor people falsifying the donors' identities as the close relatives are not always be found to be donors. Many were also going to neighbouring countries to perform the transplantations and draining out huge foreign currencies.
He proposed that individual hospitals or doctors should not be allowed to decide about transplanting the organs from their own but by the regulatory body. He said anyone willing to donate organs should be given the scope of donating organs upon independently verifying by the regulatory body.
Zafrullah said in the countries like Iran and Canada, only the regulatory body can decide whether the donor should donate an organ to any patients.
"They don't make it mandatory that only relatives can be a donor but they strictly regulate the transplantation and that no individual hospital or doctor can decide their own to transplant anyone's organ," he added.