What’s the problem with organ donation in Kazakhstan?

Published by Tengrinews.kz

18 September 2023

We’ll make you better again…….in 437 years’ time: What’s the problem with organ donation in Kazakhstan?


It’s no secret that the idea of organ transplants is developing very slowly in Kazakhstan, which, oddly enough, is not blamed on equipment and a shortage of specialists but on a basic lack of organs.


According to estimates from the Centre for Transplantation and High-Tech Medical Services, each recipient will have to wait in the queue for a precious organ for more than 400 years! Nearly 4,000 Kazakhstanis are in need of organ transplants right now, both adults and children. People are suffering from kidney, heart or liver failure and some have lung problems. But whether they will ever get an organ and a chance for life is anyone’s guess.


Kazakhstanis are very wary and cautious when it comes to organ transplants. The position of  relatives of those who could become donors is very clear in that they refuse to allow organs to be removed, although Kazakhstani laws enable them to be taken after a person’s death. A lack of information or skilled surgeons, together with religious and spiritual beliefs and fear, are stronger than the desire to save another person’s life. Transplantation is all too often seen as a crime and associated with the illegal removal and sale of human organs.


Statistics show that organ transplants in Kazakhstan are still a very rare phenomenon. For example, only 16 transplants from four posthumous donors were performed last year and given there are almost 4,000 people on the current waiting list, 112 of whom are children, you don’t have to be good at maths to realise just how insignificant this figure is –“4”.


The first operation using organs from a posthumous donor was carried out in Kazakhstan in 2012. Since then, 2,458 transplants have been conducted, mainly kidneys (1,822 cases). Liver transplants have been performed 466 times, heart transplants 90 times and successful corneal transplants 59 times. Nineteen lung transplants were carried out and pancreas transplants only twice.


According to the Ministry of Health, the most common age range of organ recipients is between 40 and 47 years of age, with the youngest being only seven months old at the time of surgery.



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