A NEW bill imposes harsh punishment to those who sell, barter or engage in any transaction involving human organs.
Deputy speaker Giorgidi Aggabao said House Bill 4440 strengthens the government's Organ Donation Program to address the declining number of recipients of kidney transplants in the country.
Violators of the proposed law face a maximum of 20 years imprisonment with a fine of P2 million, he said.
"Although organ transplantation affords the highest quality of life for patients including those with kidney failure, it is sad to note that the number of transplants has been declining," Aggabao said.
The lawmaker from Isabela cited data from the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), which show that the number of recipients of kidney transplant at the NKTI has gone down from 368 patients in 2008 to 238 recipients in 2013.
Aggabao said that the same dismal trend is true nationwide where 679 patients had kidney transplant in 2008 and only 342 patients underwent transplant in 2012.
"There is an urgent need to improve the existing Organ Donation Program. Regulated systems that remove disincentives on organ donation and afford incentives to donors simultaneously with a strong information and education drive on organ donation awareness are deemed as the solutions to increase organ donation," the lawmaker said.
He said that more organ donors would mean more lives would be saved and significant savings for the government on costs on expensive dialysis.
Covered by the proposed "Organ Donation Act of 2014" are government and private hospitals and health facilities, organ recovery organizations, medical and allied medical practitioners or professional, foundations, non-government organizations and other government units that are involved in organ and tissue transplantation.
The measure also provides that any individual, at least 18 years of age and of sound mind, may give by way of legacy, to take effect after his death, all or part of his body. It could be made by will and becomes effective upon the death of the testator without waiting for probate of the will.
A legacy of donation of all or part of a human body authorizes any examination necessary to assure medical acceptability of the legacy or donation for the purpose intended.
Under the bill, a donor may also indicate his willingness to donate his organ, tissue or part either through a donor card or the government-issued identification (ID) cards and licenses.
Aggabao said that authorized medical practitioners in a hospital shall remove and transplant any organ, which is authorized to be removed and/or transplanted.
The bill also provides assistance and recognition to a human organ donor and his immediate family by giving utmost priority if he should need an organ in the future. The immediate family of a living or deceased donor shall also be given priority if any member of his immediate family should need also an organ in the future.
A living donor shall be entitled to reasonable payments associated with the removal, transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control and storage of a human organ or the expenses of travel, housing and lost wages incurred by the donor, medical insurance and periodic health monitoring, life insurance and cost of medicines of the donor to attain full recovery.
The bill also declares unlawful to discriminate against a living organ donor in any form from pre-employment to post-employment, including hiring, promotion or assignment because of his being an organ donor.
Any discriminatory act shall be punishable with a penalty of 4 years imprisonment and a fine not exceeding P10,000. In addition, if found guilty, the license of an employer shall be revoked. (Sunnex)