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Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine (IBME)

New Publication: «Living Organ Donation for Transplantation in Bangladesh: Reality and Problems»

New Publication: «Living Organ Donation for Transplantation in Bangladesh: Reality and Problems» by our Stehr-Boldt Fellow Sanwar Siraj.

The stipulation of living organ transplantation policy and practice in Bangladesh is family-oriented, with relatives being the only people legally eligible to donate organs. There have been very few transplantations of bone marrows, liver lobes, and kidneys from related-living donors in Bangladesh. The major question addressed in this study is why Bangladesh is not getting adequate organs for transplantation. In this study, I examin the stipulations of the policy and practice of living organ donation through the lens of 32 key stakeholders including physicians and nurses, a health administrator, organ donors and recipients, and their family members, as they can shed light on the realities and problems of organ donation for transplantation in Bangladesh. My ethnography reveals that the family members are always encouraged to donate organs for transplantation, and saving the lives of relatives through organ donation is seen as a moral obligation. Many view saving the life of a relative by donating one’s organs as equivalent to saving one’s own life. An assessment of the dynamics of biomedicine, religion, and culture leads to the conclusion that the family-oriented organ donation policy and practice have been widely endorsed and accepted in Bangladesh, and Islamic ethical principles and collective family ethos undergird that policy and practice. However, the unavailability of medical resources, lack of post-operative coverage for organ donors, religious misconceptions and unawareness of the general public, and the absence of posthumously donated vital organs for transplantation are perceived to be the most common barriers to a successful living donor-recipient pair organ transplantation. By overcoming these obstacles, Bangladesh can develop a successful living donor-recipient pair organ transplantation program that will ensure improved healthcare outcomes, promote altruism and solidarity among Bangladeshi families, and protect the poor from having their organs sold to wealthy patients.