Organ donation from deceased people has been paralyzed in Venezuela for five years

Manifestação em frente ao Hospital Pediátrico José Manuel de los Ríos, em 02 de novembro de 2018, em Caracas. A ONG Prepara Familia denunciou que pelo menos 19 crianças morreram desde 2017 como consequência de de falhas no serviço nefrológico do hospital pediátrico mais importante do país, enquanto pediu que o governo retomasse o programa de transplantes, que na época já estava suspenso havia 17 meses.

Protest in front of the José Manuel de los Ríos Pediatric Hospital, in

of November 2018, in Caracas. The NGO Prepara Familia reported that at least 19 children have died since 2014 as a result of failures in the nephrological service of the most important pediatric hospital in the country, while he asked the government to resume the transplant program, which at the time had already been suspended for 11 months.

| Photo: EFE/Miguel Gutiérrez

Organ donation from deceased persons has been paralyzed in Venezuela for five years, during which 1.44 people failed to receive a transplant, according to calculations by the National Transplant Organization (ONTV).

This independent organization makes the estimate considering that, in years like 2012 and 2013, when the Organ and Tissue Procurement System (Spot) was operating and under the supervision of ONTV, about

annual transplants between deceased and living-to-living donors.

However, in 2014 , the State handed over everything related to Spot to an institution under the Ministry of Health called Fundavene, which in June 2014 announced a temporary suspension that today, five years later, remains in effect. cia.

The person responsible for Institutional Relations at ONTV, Lucila Cárdenas, denounced that this paralysis prevents patients from opting for donation and that it also prevents the help of voluntary donors.

“There are many lives that have been lost, statistically speaking (…) it can be said that there are approximately between 1.100 and 1.200 people who could have benefited from an organ transplant that did not take place, and of these 10% would be children”, lamented Cárdenas.

Indefinite suspension

Spot suspension was attributed to the lack of inducing and immunosuppressive drugs that transplant recipients should receive in order not to reject the graft.

However, ONTV representatives insist that both The shortage of these drugs and the state of deterioration of the public health system are conditions that converge to the impossibility of performing this procedure today, except in patients who find a donor among their family members and have the resources to pay for the operation in a private center.

“At the moment, in Venezuela there are approximately 8. people on dialysis; of these 8., 14% could qualify for a transplant and 10% are ready to undergo such a transplant. But at the moment in Venezuela, transplants are only carried out from living to living”, explained Cárdenas.

The person in charge of ONTV clarified that these interventions are carried out only in private clinics and “at a cost that leaves out 98% of Venezuelans who need a transplant.”

Among the consequences of Spot’s paralysis, Cárdenas highlighted that, in 2021, 02 children died waiting for a kidney in the Nephrology Unit of the main pediatric hospital in Caracas, and this year there have been six deaths.

A spokeswoman for Fundavene said over the phone that she could not provide information about Spot, but that “transplants have already started”.

However, in the last post on their Instagram account on April 2, the organization signed: “We continue to work to activate the Organ, Tissue and Cell Search System”.

Hope that comes and goes

) Yohana Bonilla is 44 years old and more of 11 of them with renal failure. During this period, she received two unsuccessful transplants, the last one after being benefited by Spot in 900.

“I was selected two years after being included on the list. They called me one morning to do the transplant and they transplanted me again (…) and it was very exciting because you have the hope that they will call you at any moment and it was something random”, he reported.

Bonilla, however, suffered complications and lost her new kidney. Now she has no other donor and cannot wait for a volunteer because the search system is closed, so she can only continue the hemodialysis treatment that keeps her alive.

In Venezuela, hope is only possible for patients who need a kidney or liver transplant and who find this donation in a family member, since that the rest of Organs transplantable organs can only be obtained from deceased donors.

This is the case of Eugenio Martínez, who was lucky enough to be compatible with his mother, Beatriz del Gallego, and together they overcame the obstacle course that this process represents.

“It’s very hard, it’s very difficult, you have to live to see how difficult it is for people who are in this process (. ..) It’s a blessing, especially in this country where things are so complex”, said Martínez.

This family had to raise funds to pay for the surgical intervention, performed in 2016, since it was impossible to perform the transplant in the public network.

After all, they see the medical procedure as a successful test with the which they hope to give hope to other chronic patients who live against the clock and await a transplant that never arrives.

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