(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Kidney transplant surgeries at Prince Hamzah Hospital will be increased from one operation per week to two, officials said on Sunday.
Prince Hamzah Hospital Director Ali Hiasat said the decision will be implemented starting this week as part of the Ministry of Health's plan to reduce referrals of public health insurance beneficiaries to other health sectors.
He noted that since the kidney transplant department was established at the hospital last year, 86 surgeries were conducted, "all of them successful".
"By conducting these operations in a public health facility, we are saving the ministry's budget as all public health beneficiaries who need kidney transplants used to be referred to other sectors, where the cost of each operation is JD8,000," Hiasat told The Jordan Times over the phone on Sunday.
He explained that in case of the unavailability of treatment or beds in public hospitals, patients are referred to other health sectors and the ministry pays the cost of the procedure.
However, a shortage of specialists remains a challenge according to Hiasat, who noted that "there are promises from the Ministry of Health to appoint new specialists".
To solve this problem, the ministry is sending doctors for training abroad, according to Minister of Health Abdul Latif Wreikat.
In a statement sent to The Jordan Times on Sunday, Wreikat said the ministry plans to establish organ transplant units in the majority of the Kingdom's public hospitals to develop healthcare services provided in the public sector.
"We have already established one at Al Bashir Public Hospital," he noted.
Kidney transplants are performed to save the lives of patients with kidney failure and provide them with a better quality of life.
According to health ministry figures, currently there are 3,377 kidney failure patients in Jordan, and the cost of dialysis and medication for them stood at JD35 million in 2011.
Around 16 per cent of kidney failure patients in the country are under 35 years old and 50 per cent of the cases are in Amman.
Seventy-five per cent of the cases were caused by diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic glomerulonephritis (an inflammation of small blood vessels in the kidneys).
Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure in Jordan and was responsible for 40 per cent of all cases in 2011, while high blood pressure was responsible for 29 per cent.
Kidney and other live organ donations in the Kingdom are restricted to first and second degree relatives.
In a previous statement to The Jordan Times, Nabil Akash, head of the Jordan Society of Nephrology, explained that donors are restricted to the relatives of a patient in order to limit organ trading and trafficking in the country.