More Myanmar citizens seek organ transplant in India

MYANMAR - More Myanmar citizens who want to undergo an organ transplant operation go to India as they face restrictions in their homeland, according to country's healthcare services.

Myanmar citizens usually go to Singapore, India and Thailand for liver or kidney transplant operations, but India is mostly chosen because of its less strict health rules and disciplines, an official from Yangon General Hospital (YGH) said.

According to a local KC Healthcare official, if Myanmar citizens want to undergo an organ transplant operation at home, they will run into many difficulties such as the shortage of organ donors and the restrictions placed on the operations.

Among organ transplant operations, kidney transplantation is the largest in number, the official said.

"We offer services by contacting Apollo Hospitals in India (for the patients). There are many medical branches but Myanmar people usually go there for liver and kidney transplants and cancer treatment," said Dr Kyaw Min from KC Healthcare.

No statistics can suggest exactly how many people in Myanmar in need of organ transplantation seek treatment abroad, but the number has increased over the past two years, Kyaw Min added.

Some patients go abroad for transplant operations on the recommendation of local specialists while some others do so at the suggestion of specialists from foreign hospitals, but Myanmar government restricts such practices.

Myanmar law allows only kidney transplants within a nuclear family, and transplanting a kidney from a brain-dead donor whose heart is still beating has only been granted in recent years.

"The law is enacted so that kidney transplantation will not become commercialised in Myanmar. There are very few cases and those who want to undergo operation have difficulties," said an official from YGH, asking not to be named.

Myanmar started kidney transplant operation in 1997 and more than 50 operations had been performed by 2012. Meanwhile, liver transplant operation could be carried out only two times, and the operation is co-financed by the government, public well-wishers and the patients themselves.

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