New transplant laws could save children's lives

Up to 2,000 sick children in Russia could be given the chance to live longer and more fulfilling lives thanks to new rules on organ transplants. At the moment, it's against the law to use children’s organs in transplant operations, but the Health Ministry

“We really hope that our country will make this change and more children will get a chance to live. Who knows how much time we have left, how much longer we can wait,” says Elena Molchanova, whose four-year-old son is in need of a transplant.

Hundreds of children across Russia are in critical need of a heart, kidney or liver transplant. Parents are forced to go abroad for such operations, but with a liver transplant costing around $US 100,000 few families can afford it.

Doctors say the health ministry’s plans to legalise organ transplants from children will help save hundreds of lives.

“The time has come. Now we need to learn how to work with it. Adopting this instruction is highly significant, but to follow it correctly, we need experts of a very high qualification,” suggests Sergey Gaotye, liver transplant specialist.

While it may be a step forward, some specialists have their reservations. Kirill Danishevski, a health consultant in Moscow, agrees the new rules are progress, but he says they need to be carefully monitored as he fears doctors could abuse their position by charging high fees or using organs from children without their parents consent.

“There needs to be full transparency on what goes on, who makes decisions and how the decisions are made. Whether this regulation will provide this full transparency is very hard to say without a trial period,” he believes.

The general consensus is that the news is a positive step forward but still some crucial aspects of the programme need to be addressed to ensure the operations that the children so desperately need are regulated.