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CebPac on transport of human organs: NKTI did not follow protocols

Cebu Pacific Air is standing by its decision to not allow doctors from the National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI) to transport kidneys inside their aircraft, saying that they are following international protocols. The airline firm issued this statement after news broke that one kidney harvested from Legaspi, Albay was spoiled after Cebu Pacific refused to let NKTI doctors transport the kidneys in a Cebu Pacific plane, leaving the doctors no choice but to transport the kidneys by land. Cebu Pacific acted in compliance with International Air Transport Association (IATA) procedures and civil aviation regulations regarding transport of infections substances, it said in the statement, adding that such regulations "are meant to protect passengers' health in case of any leakage." (View the IATA Guidance Document here.) Candice Iyog, Vice President for Marketing and Distribution of Cebu Pacific, said the packaging of the kidneys "did not satisfy the internationally-prescribed standards for packing human organs." Iyog also said that the airline offered other options for transporting the organs for transplant, in line with the airline's safety regulations, but the passengers decided not to take the flight. "We can transport the kidneys as priority cargo. However, the medical team refused... and I think they insisted to bring it in the plane, to carry it on their laps. We cannot allow that," Iyog said. Dr. Elizabeth Bautista, a transplant coordinator at NKTI and one of three doctors who were refused by Cebu Pacific, said the airline's decision was unacceptable. "Very delicate 'yung kidney so kailangan laging may tao sa kanya. Bawal kasi siya malamog, mabunggo o mabagsak (The kidneys are very delicate, so someone has to always attend to it. It can't be squished, jostled or dropped)," she said. The NKTI doctors who refused to check in the two kidneys decided to transport the kidneys in a bus. The land travel, which took half a day, jostled the kidneys. One of the kidneys spoiled, while the other was transplanted but is in danger of not working properly. "Nanganganib pa ngayon [yung isang kidney], dahil kumbaga natulog yung kidney sa tagal na nai-transplant. Iyong isa, nasayang (One kidney is in danger because it took some time before it got transplanted. The other one was wasted)," said Dr. Reynaldo Lesaca, head of the Human Organ Preservation Effort of NKTI. However, former NKTI Executive Director and now Health Secretary Dr. Enrique Ona said that despite the spoilage of one kidney, there are no sanctions that can be imposed on Cebu Pacific. "Ipapaliwanag na lang natin nang husto, better education and coordination sa ating mga airlines (We'll just have to explain the rules thoroughly, better education and coordination with our airlines)," he said. For its part, Cebu Pacific said it has contacted NKTI to discuss proper handling, packaging and labeling of human organs that will be transported on board to avoid similar problems in the future.—JV, GMANews.TV