Lawmakers want to probe the failure to implement PHILNOS program

THE failure of the Philippine Organ Donation and Transplantation Program (PODTP) to oversee the implementation of the Philippine Network for Organ Sharing (PHILNOS) has placed thousands of Filipinos in need of transplants in great danger.

This prompted two lawmakers to seek an inquiry why Dr. Antonio Paraiso, program manager of the project, failed to produce a manual of procedures including guidelines for accreditation, different committees, administrative staff and a function registry as embodied in Administrative Order No. 2010-0019 (National Program for Sharing of Organs from Deceased Donors), which established the PHILNOS.

PHILNOS is tasked to implement a system of timely referral and processing of potential multiple organ donors, equitable allocation and efficient procurement and transplantation or organs from them.

It is directed to increase awareness and acceptance of deceased organ donation and transplantation, increase the number of deceased donors, promote the ethical practice of deceased organ donation and transplantation, maintain a national waiting list of transplant candidates and a national registry of transplant patients, and to make policy recommendations that may become the basis for legislation pertaining to deceased donation program.

“PHILNOS has technically been not in existence under Dr. Paraiso’s leadership as proven by his issuance of a memorandum on May 16, 2012 stating that the PODTP and the PHILNOS shall be implementing A.O. 2010-0019 in its original form and substance limited only by the fact that no funds were allocated to PHILNOS,” said Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), who authored House Resolution 2862, together with his brother, Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Abante Mindanao).

Rodriguez said a report of the Philippine Renal Disease Registry (PRDR) revealed that 10,000 Filipinos develop end stage renal disease annually, half of which were eligible for kidney transplant. Out of the 5,000 patients with end stage renal disease eligible for kidney transplant, less than 10% actually have a transplant because of insufficient organ supply or financial constraints.

Likewise, a PRDR report in 2009 showed that 95.5% (639 out of 669) of the country’s kidney transplants came from living donors while 4.5% (30 out of 669) came from deceased or brain dead donors.

Same report added that 70% (448 donors) came from living non-related donors as compared to 30% (191 donors) which came from living related donors.

“When the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 were released on June 21, 2009 which stipulated clear sanctions for any person caught trafficking in persons for the sale or removal of organs, there was an exerted effort by the transplant community to focus on getting its main organ source from deceased or brain dead donors,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez stated that Dr. Paraiso attempted to amend A.O. 2010-0019 by stating that available funds from the PODTP will be used for its essential functions, licensing from the Bureau of Health Facilities and Services (BHFS) of the Department of Health (DOH) for stand-alone Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) will be imposed and the requirement and procedures for licensing were presently being prepared.

Rodriguez added that Dr. Paraiso has allegedly shown hostility towards the private OPO’s public awareness and organ retrieval activities through releasing a memorandum addressed to all government hospitals on July 2012 declaring that the government’s own OPO, the Human Organ Preservation Effort (HOPE) based in National Kidney & Transplant Institute (NKTI) is the only accredited OPO and the sole OPO allowed to procure organs from deceased donors.

Three private organ procurement organizations (OPOs) namely, the Integrated Program on Organ Donation (IPOD), the International Foundation for Organ Transplant, Inc. (InFORT) and Lifeshare were created aside from the Human Organ Preservation Effort, a government run OPO based in NKTI due to greater government restriction.

However, Rodriguez said, the private OPO’s operations were often challenged by the lack of infrastructure to make the deceased donor program sustainable.

“It is imperative for the House of Representatives, especially the Committee on Health to conduct and inquiry on the above issue and serve notice to all concerned, particularly the DOH, PHILNOS, IPOD, Lifeshare, Dr. Antonio Paraiso and other agencies and entities to shed light on the issue,” Rodriguez said.

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