Philippine doctors had to throw away a donated kidney after a local airline refused to fly it, transplant doctors said Thursday.
Cebu Pacific Air said it was protecting passengers from possible infection or contamination when it refused to allow the team who harvested the organ to carry the kidney in the cabin on the flight last month.
Benjamin Balmores, president of the Philippine Society of Nephrology (PSN), said the kidney could no longer be used after doctors instead tried to drive it nearly 400 kilometres (250 miles) to its destination.
"According to NKTI (the government-run National Kidney and Transplant Institute), this is the first time that the team was not allowed to hand-carry the human organ," Balmores told AFP.
Cebu Pacific said it offered to carry the kidney on priority cargo, but the doctors declined because the organ was too fragile.
Candice Iyog, a spokeswoman for the airline said: "The way (the kidney) was packed was not in accordance with prevailing internationally accepted standards."
Balmores, whose group represents the country's kidney doctors, urged airlines to commit to a set of guidelines on transporting harvested human organs.
"It seems there is no standard policy nor a consistent implementation of such policy as seen in the past experience of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute retrieval team," he said.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona confirmed the incident, and said the government needed to educate airlines about the importance of organ transplants.
Balmores called on the government to provide more funds for the state's donor programme.
"(It) would not be too ambitious to have a dedicated helicopter to transport organs for transplantation," Balmores said.
Health department data show 9,000 Filipinos die from renal failure every year.
Balmores said 11,000 people are on dialysis nationwide, 3,000 of whom would be fit enough and could afford a kidney transplant.
The PSN said it performed 511 kidney transplants last year.
The Philippines has been encouraging more transplants from deceased donors to discourage the underground practice of poor people selling their kidneys.