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Organ donation & transplants in Mexico

In Mexico, over 21,000 people need an organ or tissue transplant yet 76% of relatives and next of kin refuse to grant their consent for organ donations
Organ transplant surgery – Víctor Rojas/EL UNIVERSAL
21/01/2018
14:29
Montserrat Peralta
Mexico City
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In Mexico, the total number of people who are waiting for an organ or tissue transplant, according to the National Transplant Center is 21,17 – 1,158 more than in 2016. 

Dr. José Salvador Aburto, director of the National Transplant Center said it's a priority to provide medical care to the people for whom a transplant is their only chance to stay alive.

“We don't have a specific budget to finance organ donation and transplants, unlike other countries. There's only the budget of health institutions. It's not significant or enough to meet the demand,” said Dr. Aburto, who claims financed projects achieve better results.

The expert says there has been progress in donations and transplants and campaigns have managed to raise awareness in the population, to the point where 7 out of 10 Mexicans are in favor of donating, according to Dr. Aburto.

However, 76% of relatives and next of kin refuse to give their consent for organ donations. According to data by the National Transplant Center, 52% of transplants performed come from deceases donors, while 48% from live ones.

“We can all be donors if we make that decision while alive. To inform our next of kin of this is vital as a time may come when we aren't able to say so,” says Aburto.

In Mexico, donation coordinators are trained specifically to search and select people who are in critical conditions and meet the requirements established by the protocols to become potential donors. The Law establishes that every institution with a permit to perform transplants or donations has to have at least one donation coordinator.

The coordinatior of Organ Donation and Transplant of Tissues and Cells of the Mexican Institute of Social Secuirty (IMSS), Alfonso Yamamoto, said that in Mexico, cultural and religious matters are factors which have a considerable impact on the decision-making process of organ donations.

“Indeed, the number of relatives who refuse to give their consent is high yet Mexicans should be aware of the health problem we are currently facing and that anyone can end up on the waiting list for a kidney,” said Yamamoto.

According to the Statistical Informative Bulletin of the National Transplant Center, the organ most in demand during January to June 2017 was the kidney, with 12,977 people on the waiting list.

The second place are corneas, with most of the transplants being performed by private hospitals.

In the case of corneas, this specific type of organ transplants is very “atypical,” according to Guillermo de Wit, member of the Association to Prevent Blindness in Mexico (APEC). He clams that out of the 270 corneas the Association transplanted in 2017, 227 were imported from the United States. “This breaks the rules of most hospitals," he stated.

At the beginning of 2018, there were 30 low-income people on the waiting list for a cornea transplant at the APEC.

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