By Rey M. Nasol
Inquirer Southern Luzon
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, Philippines -– A kidney ready for transplant was wasted on its way from Legazpi to Manila while another one is feared to have been rendered unviable after a pilot of the Cebu Pacific Airlines denied transport to a medical team from Legazpi City.
The team came from Cagayan De Oro City and passed by Cebu City on the way to Legazpi City before proceeding to Metro Manila.
Dr. Evy Sarmiento, Renal Disease Control Program (Redcop) coordinator at the Department of Health Bicol office, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Wednesday over the phone that the medical team got the first kidney from Cagayan de Oro City, boarded a Cebu Pacific plane to Cebu City, and then went to Legazpi City to fetch another kidney taken from a “brain dead” patient at the Sorsogon Doctor’s Hospital Monday.
The team, however, was denied transport from Legazpi to Manila by the pilot of the Cebu Pacific Air plane allegedly due to the improper packaging of the kidney obtained in Sorsogon.
“If they (Cebu Pacific Air) had allowed the transport from the south, why not the last part of their flight (from Legazpi to Manila)?” Sarmiento said.
She said the National Kidney Transplant Institute has been planning to sue the pilot, whose actions rendered the kidneys unviable.
The group reached Manila Tuesday morning, only to find out that the organs had been severely affected during the 10-hour land travel. The plane ride would have taken only 45 minutes.
“The institute occasionally harvests one to two kidneys in Bicol, which is being done at the Sorsogon Doctors’ Hospital but this was the first time our team was denied a plane ride for alleged improper packaging of the kidney,” Sarmiento said.
She explained that organs harvested should be hand-carried and should reach the recipient as soon as possible to avoid organ rejection by him.
“We have received a report, which we are still confirming, that the airline pilot, Captain Reuben Locson, offered to carry the organs through the cargo bay but the medical team insisted that these should be hand-carried so the group was denied conveyance,” Sarmiento added.
Cebu Pacific Air spokesperson Candice Iyog, in an interview over radio station dzMM, said the pilot refused conveyance because of the packaging for the kidney.
Iyog said the airlines was just protecting other passengers from possible infection or contamination.
But Sarmiento said the organ donors were healthy and that the kidneys did not pose any health hazard to passengers.
"How I wish the pilot valued the lives of the donors, as well as those of waiting recipients who spent months in the (donor-recipient) matching process through thorough tests and medications," she said.
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