Muscat: A warning has been issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to citizens and residents travelling abroad for organ transplants.
The ministry has warned that Omani citizens and residents should be careful with regards to organ transplant surgeries abroad.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to draw the attention of Omani citizens and residents, who have the intention of travelling abroad to get organ transplants, such as for kidneys, liver and others. Individuals must ensure that the agencies, institutions and personas they deal with are officially accredited and recognised and authorised from hospitals that are allowed to carry out this type of operation within the law, regulations and procedures used in those countries,” the statement said.
The ministry also advised all citizens that in order to obtain reliable information about the hospitals and regulations in these countries, they should communicate with the Sultanate’s missions abroad, through the numbers on the ministry’s website.
A shortage of donors and months of waiting for surgery in the Sultanate forces Omani patients to spend a minimum of OMR20,000 to buy a kidney overseas, say medics, despite it being illegal across the globe. Oman is one of the six major organ importers in the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), with Pakistan topping the list of countries exporting organs to the Sultanate in 2003, followed by Iran and India. Back in 2014, an Omani father and son travelled to Pakistan for an illegal kidney transplant for just OMR14,000. Upon returning from the trip, the father discovered that his son’s guts were mangled, his urethra cut and the new kidney was damaged.
Having exhausted all other options, the father, like many other Omanis, set out on a risky trip outside Oman.
Many Omanis flock to Asia to buy organs illegally, due to a severe shortage of donors in the Sultanate, medics confirmed to the Times of Oman. It all started in 2014, when an Omani national convinced the victim’s father to take his son to Pakistan and have a “proper” kidney transplant for a “reasonable” OMR14,000.
The father and son arrived in the Pakistani capital in September 2014, where they were welcomed by an agent at the airport, who drove them through some busy localities to a posh and secure neighbourhood.
After a harrowing 20-day wait for the agent to find them a kidney donor, the Omani father received a sudden call at 10pm from his agent, asking him to get out of the house with his son and jump into the car waiting outside.
The whole setting was too unhygienic for any kind of surgery, but he had no other option. His son was anesthetized and the surgery started at 1 am. During that time, the father asked his agent if he could meet the person, who was selling his kidney. The father found out that the donor had only received OMR200 for the kidney.
Doctors said his son needed to undergo multiple operations for his abdomen. He travelled with his son to Bangalore and Hyderabad to get the new complications fixed. Thankfully, the treatment was covered by Oman’s Ministry of Health (MoH) although his son was still suffering at the time.
The shortage of donors in Oman is forcing hundreds to go through horrific ordeals in the hope of a healthy life. To tackle the issue, MoH has started distributing organ donor cards across Oman and printing the individual’s consent on their ID cards, in a significant move to save lives.
In a booklet issued by the MoH, experts said a person can live a 100 per cent normal life with one functioning kidney. Moreover, studies show that donors tend to take better care of themselves after donating a kidney, which ultimately results in better health and quality of life.