In Nigeria, there is a growing concern over the ‘black market’ sale of organs

There appears to be a booming black market and illicit dealings in organ donation, harvesting, and transplantation in Nigeria, and this has sparked worry among many citizens.

After hearing about an increase in the illegal removal of organs from people without their consent, typically for transplantation or commercial sale, the group decided to take action.

The number of documented occurrences of organ harvesting in Nigeria, including the removal of kidneys, liver, and hearts, has increased in recent years.

Due to their high demand and survival rate, kidneys have been identified as the organs most frequently harvested illegally.

The Daily Post reported in March that ex-Senate Deputy President Ike Ekweremadu had made headlines after being sentenced to nine years and eight months in the UK for his role as the “driving force” in a plot to traffick a young man to London in order to harvest a kidney from him for his sick daughter.

In the first conviction of organ trafficking under the Modern Slavery Act, Ekweremadu, 60, his wife Beatrice, 56, and Dr. Obinna Obeta, 51, were found guilty in March by an Old Bailey Court in the United Kingdom.

To find a kidney donor for Ekweremadu’s daughter Sonia, the court determined the two planned to transport a 21-year-old Lagos street vendor to a private renal unit at London’s Royal Free Hospital.

Compulsion, deception, or abduction and exploitation of vulnerable Nigerians, especially those living in poverty or marginalized groups, were found to be the leading causes of organ harvesting incidents reported in the country.

A 42-year-old mechanic named Chimaobi Eric Nwoko recently claimed he was tricked into giving a kidney to a man named Osinachi.

Mr. Steve Akazue, owner of De-Akasten Global Limited in Ikeja, who has since been arrested by the operatives of Lagos’s Zone 2 Police command, is accused of promising Chimaobi $20 million, a house in the United States, and a job in exchange for the donation of Chimaobi’s kidney to Steve’s younger brother, Osinachi.

A native of Umuahia in Abia State, Chimaobi recounts how he lost his left kidney and how he was sure that $20 million and a home were waiting for him following the operation.

Until Mr. Steve’s company in Ikeja hired me as a driver in November 2018, I was working as a technician. It fell to me to transport his sibling, Osinachi. Because of his illness, I had to drive him to dialysis appointments.

He requested an appointment with me in his office two weeks later. He expressed his gratitude for my care of his brother Osinachi and informed me that his death was imminent. When he requested for a donation, I told him my reservations. He said he would pray for me if I would just kneel down, so I did. While praying in his native tongue, he took some oil and massaged it into my scalp.

He promised me $20 million and a home in the United States. He also told me that there was a job waiting for me in the United States for a heavy truck driver.

I was overjoyed at the prospect of positive changes in my life. They rushed both Osinachi and I to the hospital, where we underwent a battery of diagnostic procedures. My kidney was deemed a great match by the doctor.

On the agreed upon day, I was hospitalized for a pre-op stay of three days. Mr. Steve leased a place in Mowe, Ogun State, for me to recuperate in after surgery, and I took the medication they gave me for about a week. No medication or other form of treatment has been administered to me since then.

Chimaobi was now pleading with Steve to pay him the promised money so that he could live on his single remaining kidney, because “the suspect’s brother is very healthy now while I am dying.”

Similarly, in September, the Plateau State Police Command detained Dr. Noah Kekere for organ harvesting at his Jos facility.

The doctor was taken into custody after being accused of performing an illegal kidney removal on Mrs. Khende Kamal.

According to the TWISCOLOADED, a businessman named Alhaji Kamal has accused Kekere of stealing one of his wife’s kidneys and causing her years of misery.

The husband explained how the kidney was taken out: “Sometime in January 2018, my wife, Kehinde Kamal, complained of pains around her abdomen, and a so-called Dr. Noah Kekere of Murma Hospital in Jos North LGA diagnosed her as suffering from appendicitis and said she needed to have surgery.

We followed the doctor’s orders and paid for all of the necessary medications and medical care. My wife was perfectly healthy before the operation, but she has been in a lot of pain ever since. We handled the pain for years while attending the same doctor.

It was revealed that one of her kidneys had been removed at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) around the end of August, when the agony became unbearable.

Many people, however, feel that organ harvesting flourishes in the country because there is little oversight of organ transplantation by the government.

Lack of oversight and enforcement of medical ethics, poverty, inequality, and dishonest doctors were cited by several medical professionals as contributing factors.

Amisu Mumuni, chairman of the Medical Consultants Association of Nigeria at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), has voiced concern over the trend, saying that no organization in Nigeria oversees organ procurement or transplantation.

According to NAN, Mumuni spoke at a Lagos State House of Assembly public hearing on a measure to create a division of organ harvest transplantation inside the Ministry of Health.

The law, he said, would govern organ harvesting and transplantation within the state, and that they had been working with the Ministry of Justice on the matter for a long time.

It’s a positive development. A regulatory authority is being set up for the first time to regulate organ harvesting and transplantation in the country,” he stated.

The lack of this in the past has left many doors in Nigeria unopened. It’s a step in the right direction toward controlling the transplant industry.

However, I would suggest that the division be autonomous. He advocated for more people to sit on the committee.

The poverty rate in the country is fueling illegal organ harvesting, according to a medical expert who spoke to DAILY POST about the issue, Dr. Usha Anenga, the Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Benue State.

Anenga also expressed disappointment that Nigeria lacked regulations pertaining to organ donation.

He suggested that the government hold a national dialogue to establish uniform guidelines for organ donation in Nigeria.

He explained that the widespread poverty in the country was to blame for the prohibition on organ donation. People are lining up to give organs in exchange for financial compensation. However, it is against the law to bribe someone into making a donation.

The lack of uniform regulations around organ donation is a major problem in Nigeria, where each individual acts as a ruler in his own right. However, a standardized set of rules is needed to govern the method throughout Nigeria.

“You also see young people; ideally, one should wait until age 21 to consider organ donation, after being advised about the implications, so that you know what you’re getting into, and then correct documentation is completed. Many persons under the age of 21 consider organ donation a “get out of jail free” card and just stroll into a hospital to make the request. That’s not the way things should be done.

As a result of illicit organ harvesting and donations, “the solution is for all the stakeholders to come together and get a proper guideline for organ donation,” which the public should be informed of.

It’s crucial that rules be followed if they exist. Keeping tabs on things is crucial. Many times in Nigeria, wonderful policies and standards are written but never put into practice.

If we want to safeguard the public from unlawful organ harvesting, we need to create a proper guideline regulating organ donation and make sure it’s executed.

Knowing this and not letting financial hardship force you to donate an organ is my counsel to the individual. Paying for a donor’s organs is against the law. It’s intended to be unrestricted and voluntary.

We anticipate that the Ministry of Health will convene a group of thought leaders, solicit input from specialists, and ultimately adopt international norms for organ donation. There is an international standard called the “Istanbul Declaration.” We need to adapt that and, along with our unique circumstances, develop a national policy guide for organ donation.

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