Ukraine’s Health Ministry plans to introduce a pilot kidney donor transplant program in 2018. The program has yet to be approved by parliament but it is already being hailed by Russian media as one that “will turn Ukraine into a supplier of organs from corpses”. Russian newspaper Moskovskyi Komsomolets predicts that the transplant program will “not only destroy public health, but turn Ukraine into a black market transplant center”.

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Ukraine’s  Deputy Health Minister Oleksander Lynchevskyi  told StopFake that such claims are part and parcel of a larger Russian disinformation narrative, that Ukraine is establishing an organ transplant black market.

Linchevsky points out that according to proposed Ukrainian legislation, individuals can donate their organs after death. That information will be registered in a central donor data base. If there is no record of a deceased individual’s agreement in that data base and if his or her immediate relatives have not given their consent, it is illegal to remove organs for transplant from such a person.

The legislation also calls for the establishment of ethics committees to record the needs of the recipients and monitor the medical community to ensure transparency and good will. The bill also establishes much tougher criminal liability for violation of organ transplant protocols.

Oleksander Linchevsky says that a black market in illegal organ transplant is technically impossible in Ukraine as both the donor and the recipient must undergo extensive tests to find the proper match. Such tests are recorded and leave a trail. Without this data organ transplants are impossible to carry out.

Moskovskyi Komsomolets also claims that rich foreigners will come to Ukraine in search of organs. The new organ transplant bill stipulates that if a recipient is not found in Ukraine, information about the available organ or tissue is forwarded to relevant institutions in other countries, but only those with whom Ukraine has signed appropriate agreements on organ and tissue transplants.

Ukraine’s Health Ministry points out that in countries where transplantation of organs is well developed and regulated, there are some 14-39 deceased donors per million people, whereas in Ukraine, it is less than 0.2 percent. Last year Ukrainian doctors carried out 126 organ transplant operations, 119 of those were kidney transplants, 5 liver and one lung transplant.

According to a recent poll conducted by the Ratings group, support for organ and tissue transplants is growing Ukrainian society. 63% of Ukrainian believe that people have the right to donate their organs to save another person’s life.