Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly, on Tuesday, commenced moves to criminalise illegal organ transplant in the state, as a bill for a law to regulate organ harvest and transplantation scaled second reading.
Clause 33 of the bill which spells out the offences and penalties for culprits, provides that a person who removes the organ of another person for a reason other than therapeutic purposes commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of 10years without an option of fine.
While kickstarting the debate, the Chairman, House Committee On Health Services, Hon. Olusola Sokunle, pointed out that the bill was a legal framework to regulate the removal and transplant of organs from either living or dead person to patients suffering from terminal organ failure.
Sokunle added that the bill would regulate the harvest and transplant of human organs in order to curb illegal trading of the organs.
He stated that the bill would ensure persons suffering from organ failure have access to available organs, adding that it would also ensure standard medical procedure for human organ harvest and transplant is followed.
“Part two of the bill deals with the creation of department for the purpose of organ harvest and transplant in the ministry of health, who shall see to the affairs of organ harvest and transplant in the state.
“This part also talks about the coordinator and other staff of the department. Also, it spells out the formation of authorization Committee, function of the Committee and State Register for organ harvest and transplant,” said Sokunle.
Contributing, Hon. Gbolahon Yishawu (Eti-Osa 2), said that the bill would help in putting a stop to organ trafficking, calling the attention of the House to the couching of the regulations which exempted the Commissioner of Health from following the regulations and approved law.
Yisuawu added that clauses which would shut out the House from investigating the activities should be avoided.
“The way the bill is couched, there is a lot of human rights issues therein. Although the bill falls under the Committee on Health but I will suggest that the Committee that handles human rights should also be involved in it,” he said.
In his contribution, Hon. Rotimi Olowo (Somolu 1) condemned the illegal act of harvesting organs for monetary gain, adding that the act cut across the sections of the country.
Olowo stated that the bill would put an end to harvesting of organs for financial gain and that it will also protect minors and mentally-ill persons whose organs cannot be harvested without the consent of their next of kins.
Reeling out the advantages of the bill, Olowo argued that the bill would bring about sanctity to human dignity, adding that penalties for such act should be heavier than what was stated in the bill.
He added that the bill provides for certified medical laboratories for human organ harvest, adding that it would stop the involvement of quacks in the practice.
Olowo stated that the power of regulation should be with the House rather than the Commissioner for Health.
Also, the Deputy Speaker, Hon, Wasiu Sanni Eshinlokun, lamented the high rate of organ trafficking in the country, adding that the bill was all encompassing and that it should be supported by all members of the House.
The Majority Leader, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, described the bill as a product of deep reflection on the part of the state government, itemising the various areas involved in organ transplanting process.
Agunbiade added that the bill would improve the procedure and discourage the act of organ harvesting for financial gain.
The Speaker of the House, Rt (Hon) Mudashiru Obasa, said that the bill would help those with terminal organ failure to still live as there would be certified organ transplant for them.
Obasa said that the bill would as well criminalise the act of using organs for ritual purposes.
“Those who illegally harvest organ for ritual purposes, with this bill will face the full wrath of the law for such act.
“The bill states the responsibilities of the donor and the recipient and those that will be in charge. I give my total support to the bill,” said Obasa.
The bill was committed to the House Committee On Health Services for public hearing and to report back in two weeks.