Rwanda has the required tools and medical personnel to perform kidney transplants, the Minister of Health, Daniel Ngamije, said on Wednesday, October 19, as the Chamber of Deputies approved the relevance of the draft law regulating the use of human organs, tissues and cells. Ngamije said that the bill will help patients who go abroad to seek kidney and liver transplants and other transplants services, to get these services within the country. It seeks to determine the use of human organs, tissues, cells and products of the human body for therapeutic, educational or scientific purposes, with the overall aim to save lives. Underscoring the need for the legislation, the Government said the Ministry of Health will launch the transplant surgery at King Faisal Hospital, and that it was needed before February 2023 for the Hospital to start kidney transplant services. It pointed out that the hospital has already installed some key equipment, started upgrading the site for the dialysis (as treatment to help kidney failure patients’ bodies to filter and purify blood), and a recovery room. Based on the roadmap on the preparation to offer such a service (renal transplant), Ngamije said, all the requirements are available, such that they could perform first renal transplant by the end of December this year, or January next year. He added that liver transplant procedures will follow those of kidney transplants. “We have doctors, some of whom are currently in America, others in India, who went to work with the hospitals with which we have [a partnership] agreement,” he said. “The [medical] team from Michigan [USA] came here and found that we are ready [to offer kidney transplant service],” he said. Overall, MPs approved of the bill, saying it could help Rwandans get the transplant services domestically. However, they said that efforts should be put in ensuring that there are affordable. “How will the vulnerable people be able to access the transplant services,” asked MP Euthalie Nyirabega, calling for ways to support them in that regard. MP Gamariel Mbonimana said that such health services are expensive, asking whether medical insurers are ready to cover them for their customers. Ngamije said that it is expected that the community-based health insurance will cover such treatments. MP Alice Muzana said that there is a need for awareness for organ donation, because ‘some Rwandans consider organ donation a taboo. Financial implications Ngamije said that introducing Transplant Surgery will reduce the expenditures for patients referred abroad. The adoption of the law will also have a positive impact on the economy with revenues from medical tourism. In the last 7 years, Rwanda has sent 67 patients for kidney transplants abroad, where it costs $12,000 (over Rwf12 million) per patient, totaling to $804,000 (Rwf856 million), it estimated. “We want to address the major issue of the money that the country was spending on the treatment of Rwandans abroad, because, one intervention (kidney transplant is $12,000), yet we have many people who need to get this service, though we were helping few to receive it because of limited resources of the fund [Medical Referral Board -- related to referrals of patients abroad],” he said. According to the Government, the move will help in achieving the national goal to be a regional hub of medical services, and attract healthcare investors who may also be able to set up other transplant centers.