Hemraj Shrestha's wife Gyani saved his life by donating her kidneys to him in 2009. He was the first patient to undergo successful kidney transplantation in Nepal. Three years since kidney transplantation started in Nepal, 211 patients have undergone the operation. 80 per cent of kidney donors in Nepal are females while 90 per cent of the recipients are males. Before kidney transplantation was allowed in Nepal, patients travelled to India for the procedure which was very costly.
Although kidney transplantation has become more popular, the organ transplantation act of 1998 stipulates that patients can only take organs from their blood relatives, which in turn forces many people to seek treatment in India where such a rule does not apply. Six months ago the organ transplantation co-ordination committee advised the state to reform the law to ease the process. However, the government has not responded yet. Another problem which plagues patients is the unsually long waiting list. Both Tribhuwan University Teaching Hospital and Bir Hospital have already been booked for months in advance. Taking into consideration the problems faced by patients and families, the government set up a transplantation centre with 100 beds in Bhaktapur last February. According to Dr Pukar Shrestha, the centre will begin dialysis services, and kidney transplantations from next month, while transplantation of other organs like liver, pancreas, heart, lungs will start in the next few months.