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Anales de la Facultad de Ciencias Médicas (Asunción)

Print version ISSN 1816-8949

An. Fac. Cienc. Méd. (Asunción) vol.51 no.3 Asunción Dec. 2018 


Donation and transplant of organs in Paraguay

Nelson Arellano1 

1Jefe Unidad Trasplante Hepático. Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Universidad Nacional de Asunción. San Lorenzo, Paraguay.

The word donation acquires its true importance when it is associated with the word transplant and represents solidarity within a society. A society where all its members interact and we depend on each other.

To illustrate the dependence, allow me to talk about three protagonists, who represent many others, who do not know each other and unknowingly form part of the same story, united as links of a chain.

This is the story of Donation and Transplant in Paraguay, where three protagonists: the donor, the patient on the waiting list and the transplanted patient, who represent three different situations, at different times, are nevertheless united with a single purpose, LIFE.

- The donor, first protagonist, first link: in September 1992, the irreversible happened, after a brain hemorrhage, a colleague, Dr. Marco Aurelio Aguayo Rodríguez, 33 years old, a graduated of our bicentennial alma mater 1, specialized abroad in infectology, became the first donor in our country.

His family in the midst of sorrow, offered us the first gift of life and at the same time sent a silent message of solidarity to the Paraguayan society.

Dr. Aguayo, gave us profs of his humanism by treating the stigmatized patients with AIDS and by phrases like “We must attack the disease and not the sick” , a mission that his close ones continue through one of his dreams, Anti-AIDS Foundation that bears his name 2.

Seneca through one of his quotes, with a surprising long-lasting force, allows us to remember and honor the memory of Dr. Marco Aguayo «When the sun is eclipsed to disappear, you can see its greatness»3.

At the time that first message of solidarity was sent, that first gift of life by Dr. Aguayo and his family, perhaps our society was not prepared to listen.

- The patient on the waiting list is the second protagonist of this story. Ana Almirón Riquelme, a girl, is the second link of this chain, she died in April 2013, suffering from a terminal heart disease. With only 6 years old, she repeated the same message of solidarity for almost two years being on the waiting list, message sent a first time two decades ago by the Aguayo family, to the same society, authorities, doctors and fellow citizens, who refused to listen.

“Anita” with her beautiful and innocent smile waited for long and endless months, she waited for too long for a gift of life that never came.

Her parents, devastated by their loss, kept showing us the path to follow, deciding to donate the girl’s corneas, transforming Anita, from patient on waiting list to donor, offering what our society had denied her.

- The transplanted patient, is the third protagonist of this story, Mr. German Martínez Vierci, journalist and fellow citizen, not finding answers in his country, is forced to travel abroad for a liver transplant, adding the distance and displacement to his serious preexisting condition, a disease that does not discriminate ages, sexes, religions or social classes.

Mr. Martinez Vierci, grateful for the new life opportunity offered to him in the form of a transplant that allowed him to continue enjoying his family, initiated, promoted and orchestrated with surgical precision the “Anita Law”, promulgated in 2018; all of this in the attempt to avoid the suffering of our people whom already suffer from the inadequacies of a health structure that did not offer adequate solutions for such complex problems; having as partners in this project Faculty of the School of Medicine of the University of Asuncion dedicated to transplants, colleagues from other institutions, patients on the waiting list as well as transplanted patients, finding in the Parliament of our nation the ideal auditorium.

It may be too early to understand the changes that this law will generate in the lives of many of our fellow citizens suffering from a terminal illness, and maybe it isn´t evident the calm brought by a small light of hope that overwhelms us as professionals dedicated to organ transplant, within a desperate and difficult to understand reality, where the day by day broke us a little more each day and even made us wonder if our dreams were not just a pipe dream, in a non-deserving country suffocated by the vices of the human kind.

Everything that could and could not be done, will one day be forgotten and it doesn´t really matter, the important thing is that for many people there will be a before and after the “Anita Law”. Every reborn person after a donation will be a new victory, every smile of a mother who sees her son recovered will be too.

The “Anita Law”, far from being a coercive law, simply reminds us we are an integral parts of a society, we have rights but at the same time obligations, and we must take a minute of our time, and discuss as a family and make a decision: to be donors or not.

The aforementioned law covers not only the donation, but also the transplant, demonstrating as if it were necessary, that the donation has no meaning without a transplant, as a chain of a single link, as a story without all of its characters.

Regarding the health professionals dedicated to Donation and Transplant, I am convinced that we are simply supporting actors, privileged intermediaries of this maximum expression of love and solidarity between two human beings, two families, within one society, where one person, without knowing the person and without asking anything in return, offers another the opportunity to live.

Finally, we should decide as citizens, if we want to be protagonists of our own history, member of a society that wants to be solidary or simply be observers and critics at the side of the road.

And if we were all “Anita”


1. Diccionario de la Lengua Española. Real Academia Española. 2018. ]

2. Fundación Marco Aguayo. 1992. ]

3. El libro de los Valores / The Book of Values. Ilustrado por Sandra Ardila. Ediciones Robinbook, 2005. ISBN 9788493423056. p. 157. [ Links ]

Received: December 20, 2018; Accepted: December 26, 2018

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