A kidney transplant, a medical procedure to replace a patient’s failed kidney with a healthy one from a donor, will begin to be performed in Rwanda on May 22 of this year, according to the Health Minister, Sabin Nsanzimana. He said this will be great progress in the country’s medical sector.
Nsanzimana said that the service will begin at King Faisal Hospital, where approximately four kidney transfers are expected to be performed.
Nsanzimana made the disclosure on May 11, during the budget hearing for the financial year 2023/2024, in which the Ministry of Health and its affiliated entities were presenting their spending plan for the next fiscal year.
He responded to MP Frank Habineza’s point on the need to ensure better management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including prevention of such medical conditions that claim the lives of people.
“For NCDs, we have a full plan including prevention and management, and even kidney transplants in case [some] NCDs are not well treated,” said.
He recognised the contribution of parliamentarians by enacting the law governing medical services, including kidney transplants. He said this “helped to expedite the process so that the kidney transplant programme will begin on May 22.”
“A team of doctors whom we have been training, as well as those coming from the University of Michigan in the USA, will arrive here in Rwanda on that date and will perform approximately four kidney transplants at King Faisal Hospital,” he said, adding that this will be a major achievement in Rwanda.
According to information from the Ministry of Health, King Faisal Hospital has already installed some key equipment, started upgrading the site for dialysis (as a treatment to help kidney failure patients’ bodies to filter and purify blood), and has set up a recovery room.
In the last seven years, Rwanda has sent 67 patients for kidney transplants abroad, with government support provided through the Medical Referral Board, which works on referrals of patients abroad. It costs $12,000 (over Rwf12 million) per patient, totaling $804,000 (Rwf900 million), as per data from the Ministry of Health.
However, the ministry indicated that more patients needed the service but the limited resources prevented them from accessing it.