Harvesting of Kidneys from Corpses: Soon kenyans will Start Donating Body Parts Upon Death.

For a long time, stories about kidney transplant, harvesting kidney from people, organ harvesting, organ trafficking cases, blackmarket organ trade have been on the rise in most countries. But what exactly are these kidney transplant, organ harvesting, and  about and how or who do they benefit?

What is kidney transplant?

Kidney transplant is one of the most common organ transplant surgeries performed today. In this surgery,kidneys that aren't working well are replaced by akidney from a donor. And this might soon become a law in kenya if parliament approves the proposed kidney transplant from fresh corpses.

This comes amid a heated debate of National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) does not fund life-long drugs needed after  the kidney transplant an action which has left many patients suffering and resolving to stick to undergoing dialysis in about 151 centres across the country, according to NHIF. 

If this bill passes from parliament, it will mark the begining of a new chapter where it will operationalize the health act which allow kenyans to freely donate their bodies or body parts for kidney transplant upon death.

A patient is operated on at the Kenyatta National Hospital by surgeons from hospital de barcelona during the hospital's kidney week in 2013.

(A patient undergoing operation in Kenyatta National Hospital by surgeons from
hospital de barcelona during the hospital's kidney week in 2013.) 
Image: FILE
"The doctors will be able to harvest kidneys from fresh corpses if the bill is passed," head of renal unit at KNH John Ngigi said yesterday. However, wide consultations and experts are critiquing the Kenya National Blood Transfusion and Organ Transplantation Bill before its forwaded to parliament. 
Dr Ngigi added that, "We also hope we can change the law to extract from friends, but we don’t want to open a Pandora's box where people can buy kidneys. When the [proposed] bill is up we can harvest from dead people.”  
In addition, the head of renal unit at KNH added that the law will revolutionalize the Health Act which allow kenyans to donate their bodies or body parts upon death through either an oral or wrritten consent. "It will set the right framework for the donation of cadaveric tissues," he told yourhealthcare.
In addition to his speech during the ongoing donor-supported orthopaedic and kidney transplant project in  Kenyatta National Hospital. According to the statistcis from NHIF, about 4,300 Kenyans are undergoing dialysis in 151 centres across the country. And unfortunatly, by last year, KNH announced that 2,000 of those people were on its waiting list for transplants. But the hospital only conducts about 15 transplants a year. 


Furthermore, a good number of patients are undergoing pain and expensive dialysis process after the donors withdrew the last minute leaving the patient and family stranded about the next move which reverts back to dialysis. Also, many potential kidney donors are kicked out of the exercise due to their bad lifestyle habits which expose them to chronic diseases such as diabetes 


Read More about: The deadly Colorectal/colony cancer.


According to the Ministry of Health, only 466 patients have undergone transplants since 2006, in public and private hospitals. 

Ngigi noted some patients opted for dialysis instead of transplant because the National Health Insurance Fund does not pay for the life-long drugs needed after transplant. 

“There’s a narrative that it is cheaper to be on dialysis than a transplant. This is a disincentive created by NHIF because it fully pays for dialysis at Sh9,500 per session, two sessions a week,” he said.


  • NHIF pays Sh500,000 for a transplant but not for the life-long immunosuppressive drugs needed after transplant.
  • A patient needs about Sh40,000 every month for the drugs to maintain that relationship.
  • Without the medicine, the body often rejects the new kidney and the patient goes back to dialysis. 

“It will make sense for NHIF to pay for immunosuppressants so we move many people from dialysis to transplant,” the doctor said.  


In 2017, doctors Alex Muturi, Vihar Kotecha and Samuel Kanyi audited the hospital’s renal unit and found that all the transplants were safe with minimal complications. 

“The data can be used to educate potential kidney donors on the overall safety of this procedure in our centre in a bid to increase the donor pool,” the study published in the BMC Nephrology journal reads.

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Date published: 22/09/2017
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