Rwanda is set to conduct its first-ever kidney transplant procedures at the country’s main hospital in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, toward the end of this month, Health Minister Sabin Nsanzimana has announced.
About four kidney transplant procedures are expected to be performed on May 22 at King Faisal Hospital, Nsanzimana said Thursday while presenting the health ministry’s budget for the 2023/2024 financial year to the National Budget and Property Commission of the Rwandan parliament.
He said that a specialized team of doctors from the United States will be arriving in Rwanda to perform the procedures in close collaboration with local medical doctors.
Early this year, the Rwandan parliament enacted a law regulating the use of the human body, organs, tissues, cells, and products for therapeutic, educational, or scientific purposes.
This law will enable the performance of lifesaving medical procedures for many patients affected by terminal organ failure, within the country, according to the Rwandan Ministry of Health.
By authorizing transplant surgery services through the establishment of a legal framework, Rwanda hopes to significantly reduce the number of patients referred abroad for organ transplants, thus lowering travel costs and reducing medical bills for families seeking treatment abroad, according to a statement from the ministry earlier this year.
Official data from the Ministry of Health indicates that over the past eight years, Rwanda referred nearly 70 patients abroad for kidney transplants at a cost of more than 800 million Rwandan francs (about 718,044 U.S. dollars).
Efforts are underway to upgrade the infrastructure and equipment at King Faisal Hospital to enhance its capacity to perform kidney transplant procedures and other highly specialized medical services, with a view to expanding service delivery to other teaching hospitals and health facilities across the country, according to the ministry.
The ministry anticipates that the introduction of kidney transplant procedures will be the first of many organ transplants to be carried out in Rwanda in the near future. It said these efforts are in line with the government’s vision for Rwanda to become a regional medical hub, with a view to attracting investors to develop other specialized healthcare services in the country.