THE University Teaching Hospital (UTH) is scheduled to conduct its first ever kidney transplant this year.
This is a milestone in Zambia’s efforts to offer quality and affordable specialised healthcare services to the citizenry.
UTH senior superintendent Clarence Chiluba said the hospital will soon conduct the first ever kidney transplant in line with Government’s desire to provide quality specialised medical services that will improve citizen’s quality of life.
“We should be able to do over four [kidney] transplants within this year because of the overwhelming response and donors that have come through to partner with the people who have early stage kidney problems,” he said.
This is indeed good news considering that for a long time Zambians have had to travel to India and other countries abroad for specialised treatment including kidney transplants.
This proved to be costly not only for individuals involved but for Government as well.
For instance the Zambian government has been sponsoring 10 patients to undergo kidney transplants in India every year. By 2015, Government was spending about US$25,000 for each transplant in India while in South Africa the same service was costing US$65,000.
In other instances patients with kidney failure have had to be confined to the dialysis machine.
While government provides free dialysis particularly for children and women, the dialysis machines are not enough to cater for all patients.
This has left many patients with no option but to seek the services from private hospitals which demand exorbitant fees beyond the reach of many people.
In the most unfortunate circumstances lives have been lost due to limited access to kidney transplant.
It is however encouraging that Government has finally established a facility that will conduct kidney transplants at the UTH.
It is also inspiring that Zambia has skilled doctors capable of conducting sophisticated surgeries.
This is evidence that Zambia is making steady progress in its health service delivery.
While we are happy that Zambia is making strides in providing sophisticated medical equipment, infrastructure and specialised medical personnel we are also much more touched by the willingness of Zambians to save lives.
According to Dr Chiluba, 20 people have so far offered to donate kidneys to ailing patients as UTH prepares to conduct its first ever kidney transplant.
This is commendable and a true reflection of African nature.
While we have enlightened people like the 20 who have offered to donate their kidneys to save lives, there is still need for more sensitisation to demystify kidney transplants just like blood transfusion.
A lot of people are ignorant that one can live a normal and healthy life with one kidney.
People need to understand that they can save a life by donating a kidney and yet preserve their own.
We are happy that the UTH management is aware of the need to sensitise the public on kidney transplant and the dire need for kidney donations.
The hospital plans to work with the media in a bid to demystify the Kidney transplant.
This is the way to go.