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Timeline: Kidney Trading in the Philippines

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1991 – The Organ Donation Act (Republic Act 7170) outlines the process by which individuals may donate organs after death. This also allows for international sharing of human organs or tissues if foreign organs or tissue bank facilities grant reciprocal rites to their Philippine counterparts. The law is silent as regards the acceptance and management of living organ donors.


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1999 - A documentary show exposes kidney sellers in Isla Baseco, a slum
area in Tondo, Manila. Community officials estimated that 3,000 of
Baseco’s 50,000 citizens have sold their kidneys for prices ranging
from P70,000 to P120,000.

2002 – The Department of Health (DOH) issues Administrative Order (AO)
124 which sets the guidelines for acceptance and management of organs
from living (related and non-related) donors and prohibits the sale and
purchase of kidneys. It also establishes the Philippine Organ Donation
Program (PODP) to encourage live donors to donate kidneys through the
right process.

Among the structures created was the National Transplant Ethics
Committee and the National Kidney Monitoring Unit which is supposed to
keep a registry of all kidney transplants conducted in the country,
including a registry of all LNRDs and all patients seeking donations.

The implementing guidelines of AO 124 set a cap of 10% on kidney transplant for foreigners.

2003 – The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (Republic Act 9208) defines
the “sale and removal of organs” under certain conditions as a form of
trafficking in persons, and thus punishable by law.

1 September 2003 – AO 81-03 set rules and regulations governing the
accreditation of hospitals engaged in the conduct of kidney
transplantation.

6 August 2005 - The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies the
Philippines as one of the top five organ trafficking hotspots in the
world. The other hotspots are China, Pakistan, Egypt, and Colombia.

6 November 2007 – CNN, a worldwide news network, airs a segment on the increasing number of Filipinos who sell their kidneys.

12 December 2007 - Senator Loren Legarda files Senate Bill 1958, or the
Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act of 2007. The Act focuses on organ
and tissue donation and the formation of a network and other programs
to coordinate transplantation efforts. It also lays down concrete
punishment for those involved in selling kidneys for profit. The bill
remains pending to date.

3 March 2008 - DOH issues Administrative Order 2008-004 revising the
policy on living non-related organ donation and transplantation. It
provides for the creation of the Philippine Network for Organ Donation
and Transplantation (PhilNETDAT) and a National Human Organ
Preservation Effort (NHOPE) which shall serve as clearing house for
placed living non related donors as well as those waiting to be placed.
Section 7 of the order allows the Philippine Board on Organ Donations
and Transplantations to set guidelines on organ transplantation to
foreign patients.

4 March 2008 – The Philippine Society of Nephrology, a group of
Filipino nephrologists then-headed by Lyn Gomez, MD, calls for the
revocation of the new AO, saying the AO encourages transplant tourism.
The group instead called for a total ban on transplants to foreigners.

29 April 2008 – President Arroyo orders a ban on all kidney transplants to foreigners.

12 May 2008 – The Philippine Board for Organ Donation and
Transplantation (PBODT) exempts eight Israelis from the ban, despite
strong objections from opposing nephrologists and organizations. The
PBODT cited “humanitarian reasons” for the exemptions. DOH
Undersecretary Mario Villaverde said the Israelis were already on the
waiting list for transplantation even before the ban.

19 May 2008 - Social Welfare and Development Secretary Esperanza Cabral
tells pro-exemption health officials to donate their own kidneys to the
eight Israelis.

29 May 2008 – The health department issues 2008-004-A to amend section
7 of 2008-004. The new provision states that “Foreigners are not
eligible to receive organs from Filipino living non-related donors.

18 October 2008 - Cabral reiterates her call to stop kidney sales in a
forum on the implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) for organ
trafficking. The forum aimed to fill the gaps in existing policies on
organ donation. – Anna Bueno and Gemma Bagayaua

SOURCES
• “Desperately poor Filipinos sell kidneys.” 18 April 2008, ABCNews.net
• “DOH breaks silence, justifies kidney transplants.” 23 May 2008,GMAnews.tv
• “DSWD chief to pro-kidney transplant docs: Donate your organs first.” 19 May 2008, GMAnews.tv
• “End Stage Renal Disease and Kidney Transplantation in the
Philippines.” PowerPoint Presentation by Benita S. Padilla, MD,
President, Philippine Society of Nephrology.
• “FACTBOX: Five organ trafficking hotspots.” 05 August 2007, Reuters.
• “Organ sale like prostitution – DSWD.” 18 october 2008, GMAnews.tv

CATEGORY: Human Trafficking
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