KARACHI – Transplantation Society of Pakistan President Prof Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi has asserted that one dead person, who is an organ donor, can save the lives of 17 people.

There is a need for all the citizens to be organ donors to save the lives of thousands of Pakistani people suffering from organ failure.

“According to rough estimation, more than 50,000 people die each year due to end stage of organ failure while there is shortage of organs to carry out organs’ transplant surgery. Sindh Assembly has played remarkable role in term of banning the commercialisation of organ transplantation by ratifying the Human Organ and Tissue Transplantation Law of 2010 at the provincial level. The law has minimised the organ trade in the country,” he said.

He was addressing a press conference at Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) here on Saturday. Justice (r) Majida Rizvi, Faisal Edhi of Edhi Foundation, Dr Anwer Naqvi of SIUT, Dr Manzoor Hussain of TSP and Dr Bux Ali of SIUT also spoke on the occasion.  

Prof Rizvi, who is also the director of SIUT, said that the step of the provincial government towards the law had made Sindh as the first province taking a lead in the country to ratify the law, which was aimed to increase living and deceased organ donation and check unfair practices and commercialization of organ transplantation.

Around 20 per cent cases of illegal transplant of organs is being reported beyond the law especially in Punjab province, he said and added that after the ratification of the bill from the national assembly kidney transplantation has been increased. Highlighting the importance of deceased organ donation, he said that organ donation trend can help us to discontinue the illegal organ trade and associated exploitation of the poor and vulnerable, while it also will create a chance for other organ transplantation such as liver, heart, lungs etc.

He added, “Deceased organ donation means acquiring organs from a person after death to be transplanted into other persons who are dying from organ failure, in order to save their lives. It is an established medical procedure and is considered as an act of profound generosity. It is a donation of life to those for whom the only alternative is dying from organ failure. Globally the increase in transplant activity has only been possible due to increasing numbers of deceased organ donations. According to rough estimation, more than 50,000 people die each year due to end stage of organ failure, which includes 15,000 people with kidney failure, 10,000 with liver failure and 6500 with heart failure. Majority of these patients can be saved if organs are available for transplantation.”

Talking about ratified law, Prof Rizvi said that the ratified law will enable any person who has signed his will to become an organ donor.

“In case if there is no such declaration available and the person has been declared ‘brain dead’ in that case the living spouse or parents or adult member of the family are authorized to give consent to retrieve organ for transplant at any medical institution or hospital duly recognized by the monitoring authority. To ensure the ethical and non commercial transplantation activities in the country an ‘Evaluation Committee’ has been setup, while the role of the committee has been further strengthened as the committee would comprise of surgical specialist, medical specialist, transplant specialist, nephrologist, neuro physician and two notables of outstanding record of public service,” he said.

Highlighting the many other aspects of the law, he said that this will also remove the reputation of Pakistan as “cheap organ bazaar” as the old practice of overseas visitors to buy organs from poor people of Pakistan with the connivance of middle men and corrupt medical professionals will come to an end.

The new law ensures that organ donation of Pakistani citizens will not be permissible to citizens of other countries, he explained.

Prof Rizvi urged the government, media and civil society to come forward to promote the idea of deceased organ donation among the citizens. He said that anyone can be an organ donor; there is no absolute age limit for deceased organ donation.

“Despite this only a handful of people can become organ donors. This is because if someone dies at home the blood clots immediately, making it impossible to use their organs for transplantation. On the other hand if someone fatefully meets an accident, is taken to a hospital, put on a ventilator and when all efforts to save his life fail and the person becomes brain dead, that person’s organ may be saved and transplanted to save the lives of several others,” he said.

Justice Majida Rizvi, who is also a part of the evaluation committee, highlighted the role of the committee, and said that the committee will investigate the relation between the organ donor and the patient, as only blood or close relatives can donate their organs to the patient. To ensure the transparency the committee may check the national identity cards, Nadra certificates and Nikanama (marriage certificate), she said.    

Faisal Edhi and Dr Anwer Nasim suggested the authorities concerned to create a special slot on the national identity cards and driving license in which details of deceased organ donation should be mentioned whether the card holder is organ donor or not.   

The speakers demanded of the government to impose severe punishment if anyone is found indulging in human organ trade. The punishment shall come in the form of imprisonment for a term of ten years and a fine up to Rs one million, they added.