Adam Mwanje, a former driver and friend of Joseph Kabuleta, revealed that his former boss is against the new Human Transplant Bill because it threatens his business and livelihood.
Kabuleta, Leader of the National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED), during a press conference last week at his party offices in Rubaga Division, punched holes in the newly passed Human Organ and Transplant Bill, claiming it will offer no solution to the current illegal sale of organs.
“Since it’s a trade that has been going on under the table, passing the bill only denies previous human organ traders a chance to continue making money. The law interferes since it is going to be streamlined and controlled by the Ministry of Health and the Human Organ and Transplant Council, making it difficult for whoever was operating underground,” Kabuleta stated.
He added that before the bill, one would negotiate with the donor or buy on the black market through the available means, like causing unnecessary accidents to young people’s health, wait around Mulago and Kirundu to negotiate with the victim’s family and cut a deal at a cheaper price, and later sell or export the organs to the highest bidder.
However, according to Mwanje, this is exactly what Kabuleta would do, and he is saying all this because the bill seeks to remove all that, threatening his livelihood.
Mwanje narrates that while he was still driving Kabuleta, they would hang around Mulago and Kirundu hospitals, often with a different van ahead of them or behind them, until the late hours of the night, where his boss would be seen speaking to different patients and grieving families. He admired his boss for caring about people.
“We made many visits to Mulago, Kirundu, and Najjanakumbi to the home of some Pakistani doctor, where we always left the van. One time I overheard his conservation, and that is when I realised the trips to the hospitals were for negotiating for organs,” said Mwanje.
According to Mwanje, the admiration turned into disgust when he realised that all Kabuleta was doing was for money and not care or love.
“I quit my job there and then because I could not be involved in such things. Now he is making noise because the bill is here and it’s threatening his business,” Mwanje added.
Kabuleta also alleges that it will be very difficult for people to go to hospitals and seek treatment, especially those with organs in very good shape; according to him, the bill allows doctors through the council to harvest those good organs for later use.
However, the bill states that no one is allowed to buy or sell organs, and those willing to donate, have to seek approval of the council and consent with family members too, including sick or accident patients. No harvest can take place without consent.
“The centre personnel will be trained on the procedure and ethics of obtaining and documenting consent for donation and the donor and recipient information. Harvesting human organs, tissue, or cells must be considerate of the cultural and spiritual needs, values, and beliefs of close relatives. And commercialization of human material for transplantation is strictly forbidden; monetary or any other form of compensation is prohibited,” according to the new law.
The Organ Donor Bill was introduced in Uganda in response to the country’s high demand for organ transplants, which has resulted in the exploitation of organ recipients and the prevalence of organ trafficking. The law also forbids removing organs from living donors without their permission.