Life imprisonment for offenders

Ugandans in the business of trafficking human body organs have a cause to panic after Parliament today passed the Uganda Human Organ Donation and Transplant Bill, 2021.

The new law will see the formation of Uganda Organ and Transplant Council established to oversee and regulate organ, cell and tissue donation and transplant in the country.

The bill gives a penalty of life imprisonment for persons selling and trafficking in human organs, cells and tissues.

This means transplantation of human organs, tissues, and cells like kidneys, heart, blood, lungs, liver, pancreas, intestines, thymus, bone marrow, bones, tendon, ligaments, corneas, cells, skim, amniotic membrane, penile, uterus, and other is prohibited.

The bill also prohibits the sale of one’s organ by a living donor for financial or any other form of compensation. It also prohibits the removal of a human organ, tissue or cell from a living donor without consent or authorization.

Life imprisonment for offenders

In regard to children, the new law only allows harvesting organs and tissues from a living child, in exceptional circumstances approved by the Uganda Organ and Transplant Council.

One of the provisions under which a living child may donate is stem cell therapy for miners who are twins or close siblings after approval by the Council. Contravention of this provision also attracts a penalty of life imprisonment.

Donation of organs by children over 18 years of age is only permitted under the new law with consent from parents.

Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa said that the Bill will help Ugandans get organ transplants with well-prescribed guidelines and also protect vulnerable people.

Parliament approved the recommendation by Health Committee Chairperson, Dr. Charles Ayume, that a person who contravenes this provision commits an offense and is also liable, on conviction, to life imprisonment.

This committee recommendation is different from an earlier proposed government penalty of imprisonment not exceeding 12 years or a fine not exceeding 2 billion Shillings (one hundred thousand currency points) or both.

Dr. Ayume said that the new provision is to provide for a more deterrent penalty.

Currently, Uganda does not have any law governing human organ donation and transplantation.

Life imprisonment for offenders

While tabling the proposed law to parliament in July, the Minister for Health Jane Ruth Aceng said that the objective of the Bill is to establish a legal framework for the regulation of organ, cell, and tissue donation and transplantation, aimed at protecting the dignity and identity of every person and guarantee, without discrimination, respect for integrity and other rights and fundamental freedoms with regard to donation and transplantation of organs.