DISPATCH | 4 years after the suspension of the Venezuelan Transplant Organ Seeking Program
In the context of the muldimensional crisis and the Complex Humanitarian Emergency (EHC) that exists in Venezuela, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the suspension of the Transplant Organ Seeking Program is a situation that has caused a very severe damage to the population in need of a transplant, wishing to get their health and life quality back, especially for children and adolescents.
Until mid-2014, the National Transplant Organization (ONTV), used to administer the Transplant Organ Seeking Program (SPOT). However, since 2014 the Health Ministry suspended the program and created the Venezuelan Foundation for Organ Donations Tissue and Cells (FUNDAVENE), a dependency to said Ministry, which was adjudicated the organ seeking functions.
Since then, transplant numbers began dropping, which culminated with the total suspension of the program since June 1 2017, because Fundavene found itself unable to provide enough immunosuppressors to guarantee safe transplant procedures (necessary drugs so that transplanted organs or tissue are not rejected by patient’s bodies).
The irregular supply of immunosuppressive drugs, treatment failures before transplant procedures, hospital network deficiencies, the deterioration of services and qualified staff’s migration, are a few of the reasons that contributed to the suspension of SPOT, and far from improving, these conditions have worsened since then.
ONTV has estimated that, in the case of people suffering from kidney diseases, in need of a transplant, they have wasted four years waiting for an opportunity to get a transplant organ. 960 potential organ transplants were not performed, lacking proper pre and post-procedure conditions, from which 150 could have been directed to children and adolescents in need of organs, a group which has always received preferential treatment in transplant programs so that they won’t suffer the long-term consequences inherent to chronic kidney disease. Their right to health services must be an absolute priority.
People currently being treated in hemodialysis units suffer from a significant deterioration of their health condition due to, in a lot of cases, they receive less dialysis hours than needed because the running water service is irregular. Also, due to staff scarcity, they do not have access to the essential medicine and medical supplies that they need. Patients face many transportation difficulties in their way to hospitals, while they have to continue to visit the hospital three times a week, without the hope of getting their normal lives back, which a transplant would make possible.
Additionally, the risks for patients who have already received a transplant has dramatically increased due to the irregular access to immunosuppressive drugs and the lack of a comprehensive COVID-19 vaccination plan. Along with patients depending on dialysis treatment, they should be prioritized in any vaccination plan.
We cosigner Organizations support this Dispatch, we request the State the immediate and effective reactivation of the Venezuelan Transplant Organ Seeking Program, to guarantee the supply of immunosuppressive drugs and the ideal conditions during the whole process, including pre and post-transplant treatment.