About five thousand people in Ukraine need transplantation annually. 1.5 thousand of them need new heart or liver and 2 thousand need kidneys. However, only 100 similar operations are made per year in Ukraine.

In 64% of countries, where transplantation is carried out, there is the system of presumed non-consent to organ donation, and only in 36%, mainly European countries - the system of presumed consent.

The Healthcare Ministry has developed and submitted to the Verkhovna Rada a bill, according to which every Ukrainian can become an organ donor after death, if he fails to write relevant refusal when alive.

The draft bill, however, has already caused a wave of fears that healthy people or those who can be saved will be no longer safe.

At the same time, since the introduction of the amendments to the law on transplantation in 1999, according to which only a relevant consent written while alive can be used as a ground of organ donation, the number of similar operations in Ukraine has reduced significantly. Doctors say this said situation must be changed.

ForUm has asked medical workers, human right activists and church representatives about the prospects of the new law.

Father Andriy Nagirnyak, head of the social issues department of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church:

- The church has nothing against organ donation, as it considers it an act of charity. However, the Church does not accept the trade of organs or any commercialization of the donation process. Treatment of a body as a purchase and sale object is morally unacceptable for the Church, while disinterested donation is welcomed.

Speaking about current situation in Ukraine, there are several points to be considered. Firstly, we have certain fears that introduction of the system of presumed consent may result into abuses, as our society is not completely law-abiding. Secondly, before adopting the law, the authorities must hold an information campaign to explain to people what the notion "presumed consent" means. The society must be well prepared and informed about the process.

There are good examples of similar public campaigns. In Spain, for example, the authorities with the help of the Catholic Church managed to change people's attitude towards transplantation for the better.

We believe that the decision on organ donation must be conscious. A person must understand what it is about. However, under current conditions people would not even know they have taken this decision, thus the information campaign is a must to prepare the society for this law.

Moreover, the Church is ready to support any actions or campaigns aimed at the improvement of people's attitude towards transplantation and organ donation.

Eduard Bahirov, human right activist:

- The decision to donate organs must be free-will. Instead of adopting new laws, it would be better to hold an awareness campaign for people to understand that being an organ donor is a noble deed.

Thousands of Ukrainians need organ transplantation annually. State program on transplantation is not well financed and people who do not have enough money for the operation have nothing but wait for death. On one hand, it is very important to help them. On the other hand, we do not want to provide medical business with uncontrolled opportunity to earn on people's misfortunes, do we? We all know that transplantation operations brings hundreds of thousands dollars, and it makes this sector an interesting business. As a result, we may have to deal with corruption or criminal schemes. That's why I believe this initiative is premature for Ukraine. Our people are not ready yet to rely on decency of transplant surgeons. However, if the law is adopted anyway, state and law enforcement bodies will have to conduct strict control over the process.

Archbishop Evstratiy (Zorya), head of the information office of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchy:

- Our Church does not welcome such practice: the state should be the owner of people's bodies. We must render respect to person's honor and dignity even after death.

In our country there is a low level of legal conscience and high level of corruption, that's why we have regular scandals involving 'black transplant surgeons'. Thus, we fear that after the adoption of this law there may appear doctors who will be interested not in wellbeing of a patient, but in his sooner death. Moreover, we may have to deal with international scandals, when organs of Ukrainians will be sold at black market for foreign patients.  It is obvious that our society is not ready for this initiative. Before adopting this law, we must hold discussions, including with participation of church representatives.

Archpriest Andriy Tkachyov, rector of the Reverend Agapit Pecherski cathedral (Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy):

- It is a known fact that in our country if a person signs a will leaving his apartment to someone after his death, this persons risks to die prematurely. The same concerns kidneys, liver and heart. If we introduce presumed consent system, the percentage of people, who will not revive but disembowel, will increase tremendously.     

From the moral point of view, we should stick to the presumed non-consent system unless stated otherwise by the will of a dead.

Tetyana Yablonska, lawyer and human right activist:

- This is a very good and necessary law, but not for our corrupted country. I am not sure that after its adoption rich sick people will not hunt down healthy people and disembowel them for organs. I believe the law on organ donation is essential for a society, but only if the society is not as corrupted as ours. I am afraid this law will put at risk those patients, who can be still saved.

Tetyana Bakhteyeva, chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Health Care:

- This bill does specify what the death of human brain means. The legal base that exists in our country since 1999 is the same as the American, British or Australian one. We have written consent system under which a person officially writes that he agrees to give his organs after death. The law is not perfect, but the statistics of similar operations in Ukraine is low and the situation must be changed.

Ruslan Salyutin, director of the organ and tissue transplantation coordination center of the Healthcare Ministry of Ukraine:

- We have developed the draft bill but have not submitted it officially to the parliament yet. We have given it for review to draw public interest to the matter. We will submit it for consideration only when the society learns the draft bill and the transplantation system. We want people to study this matter, we want specialists to hold roundtables and we want the press to write about it. Only then we want the parliament to consider it.


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