By Nigar Orujova, Azernews
Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) surgeries will be launched in Azerbaijan in the near future, Deputy Health Minister Elsever Agayev said last week.
Bone marrow is a spongy tissue inside bones containing stem cells that produce the body's blood cells, which fight infection, carry oxygen to and remove waste products from organs.
BMT is a relatively new medical procedure being used to treat diseases once thought incurable. Since its first successful use in 1968, BMTs have been used to treat patients diagnosed with leukemia, aplastic anemia, lymphomas such as Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, immune deficiency disorders and some solid tumors such as breast and ovarian cancer.
According to Agayev, preparations are ongoing in the Thalassanemia Center to carry out BMT surgeries.
World practices and Azerbaijan
According to member of the parliament's social policy committee, Musa Guliyev, world transplantation practices are a major issue, which requires special work to be done, including creation of certain grounds to allow donation of organs.
Guliyev believes there is legal basis but no organizational control over donation of organs in the country.
According to the transplantation law, usage of organs and tissues is allowed if a person grants a written permission for donation after his death or by his or her close relatives/legal representatives' agreement.
After these arrangements, international experience can be used in Azerbaijan, Guliyev said.
Another important factor is establishment of a commission for brain death confirmation. Special clinics in the Azerbaijani capital Baku and the regions should be created for brain death confirmation as well as extraction of organs for their further transplantation.
"After this we can pass to identical documents with electronic chips and the donation information can be placed there," Guliyev said.
Organs and tissues may be provided by a living or dead person, however, most of transplantation material is derived from deceased persons.
There are currently no donor banks in Azerbaijan, but there are no roadblocks to create ones in terms of legislation, Guliyev believes.
Azerbaijani legislation on human organs and tissue transplantation allows only a person over 18 years old with a health certificate on full medical examination to become a donor.
According to the law, transplantation surgeries can take place only at the State Urologic Clinic Hospital, the Central Customs Hospital, the Ophthalmological Scientific Research Center and the Central Oil Workers' hospital.
Due to a ban on children's donating organs in the country, transplantation from a brain-dead child can be carried out only after his parents' approval. Therefore, most of the transplantation operations for children are carried out abroad.
Sale of transplantation organs and tissue is also banned in Azerbaijan, which even prompts some people to evade the law.
Notwithstanding the downsides of the bans they were designed to secure people from illegal organs trade.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the last 50 years, transplantation has become a successful practice worldwide. However, there are significant differences between countries in the access to suitable transplantation and in the level of safety, quality, efficiency of donations and transplantation of human cells, tissues and organs.
The ethical aspects of transplantation are at the forefront. In particular, the shortage of transplants sometimes leads to the temptation of trafficking human body parts for transplantation.
In 1987 the fortieth World Health Assembly, concerned at the trade for profit in human organs, initiated the preparation of the first WHO Guiding Principles on Transplantation, endorsed by the Assembly in 1991 in Resolution WHA44.25.
The principles were updated in the WHA63.22 resolution on May 21, 2010, endorsing the updated WHO Guiding Principles and identifying areas of progress to optimize donation and transplantation practices.