A Public Health physician at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Prof. Tanimola Akande, has cautioned Nigerians to be wary of offers of free trips abroad from spurious persons.
He noted that such offers of free foreign travel are being used to trick people into organ harvesting scams.
The physician said that Nigerians are already dying from these organ harvesting scams, urging the citizens to be alert and wary of sudden offers of free trips overseas to seek greener pastures even when such offers come from seemingly close family and friends.
Nigerians, he said, should also steer clear of overseas employment opportunities that did not come abroad through reputable organisations that recruit people for jobs.
According to Prof. Akande, many Nigerians have lost their lives to such tricks, adding that they end up being murdered for organ harvesting.
Organ harvesting, Akande said, is becoming common these days because of the increasing need for patients to get organ transplants to replace failing organs in their bodies.
He, however, noted that more cases of organ harvesting are happening in Europe because more patients there require organ transplants, adding that the availability of the needed skills and material resources to do the transplantation makes the demand for it to be high there.
Organ harvesting, he explained, is a surgical procedure that entails the removal of body organs or tissues for reuse.
The human body organs are often in high demand, he said,
include the kidney, liver, and heart.
Speaking in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, Prof. Akande stated that victims of organ harvesting are likely to experience health challenges depending on the organ harvested and the safety of the procedure.
He said, “Victims of organ harvesting, depending on how the procedure was done and the particular organ harvested are at risk of having serious health challenges.
“Harvesting of a kidney out of the two a victim possesses may not show immediate danger but if the remaining kidney begins to fail, there is no spare kidney to handle the renal functions.
“However, if the organ that is harvested is just one, unlike the kidney, that is an immediate death sentence.
“The procedure of the organ harvest may also lead to excessive bleeding, infections like hepatitis B and HIV. There could also be complications from anaesthesia which may lead to death,” the professor said.
Prof. Akande stated further that victims of organ harvesting may also not get help for complications resulting from the procedure.
“Since organ harvesting is a criminal offence, those conducting the procedure are not likely to take the victims to health facilities where they can get help when there is complication.
“Victims are likely to lose much blood during such procedures and die as a result if help did not come promptly,” he said.
The public health expert said, “What is expected is to have a volunteer who will donate his or her organ.
“Such volunteers are subjected to tests to be sure they are fit to donate without suffering serious adverse effects and to be sure that such organs are compatible with the recipient.
“If a person donates one of his kidneys, the other kidney may function well, but if the remaining kidney has challenges then survival becomes more difficult.”
Prof. Akande called for awareness campaigns on the dangers of human trafficking and its link to organ harvesting scams.
He said, “Physicians need to be well alert to ensure that when organ transplant is envisaged, appropriate ethical procedures are followed.
“Health authorities will also need to intensify their supervisory roles to ensure such practices are not condoned in private and public health facilities.”
“The big market for organ harvesting is thriving because patients and their relations are desperate to get organs to replace the failing one and are ready to pay heavily for it,” Akande said.
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