Islamabad-Ashfaq is one of 20,000 patients in Pakistan who might die within one year if they fail to undergo a successful kidney transplant.

Since all his relatives have either refused or are unable to donate him an integral organ of their body, Ashfaq has been surviving on dialysis for the past two years. “It is so painful and tragic. It’s unbearable to see my brother slipping out of our hand like this,” said Saleem Memon, the brother of patient Ashfaq who is undergoing dialysis process at a local hospital these days.

The dialysis is a painful process to clean blood from urine. The patient’s entire blood is sucked out of his/her body and injected again after cleaning.

Recently, the government passed a legislation which placed a comprehensive ban on donation of kidney organs, unless the donor is a close relative of the patient. While the idea was to stop illegal sale and purchase of the organs, it failed to check the practice. However, it jeopardizes the lives of thousands of patients every year.

Memon appealed to the government to let someone outside his family donate kidney to his brother. He said if anything happens to his brother, the entire responsibility would be on the policymakers. According to statistics, the total number of patients of chronic kidney disease has increasing by 17 per cent in Pakistan. Approximately, more than 20,000 patients die every year in the country.

There are only 80 nephrologists in the entire country with merely 28 nephrology units where dialysis can be performed. In the United States there are more than 5,000 units. 

In order to keep all the patients alive on dialysis, a staggering amount of $12 billion is needed. Provided the government offers free dialysis to the kidney patients at all 550 tehsil headquarters, it would require more than $60 billion just to build the infrastructure and ensure the availability of the doctors.

The doctors, who are wary of the negative propaganda behind the kidney transplant, urged the government and the civil society to take a realistic look at the situation.

They referred to Iranian Model, under which anyone can donate kidney to the patients against a total compensation of $2500. In the year 2005 more than 20,000 transplantS were performed in Iran, which did not raise any eyebrow.

In the developed country like Canada, there is no restriction of being a relative to become a kidney donor. Anyone can register himself/herself with the transplant center to become a donor. However, the donor can later claim the compensation of $5,500.

It has been observed that donors, in Pakistan, donate kidneys on their free will, but later certain groups lure them into giving complaints about being abducted and stealing of their kidney. Invariably this happens years after the transplant. Question arises why they don’t come forward right after this happens to them. Medically a Kidney cannot be stolen as it involves lengthy lab work of the donor including tissue typing and other extensive tests which cannot be performed on a donor without his knowledge or will.

It is portrayed that doctors are involved in the sale and purchase of the organs but invariably this relationship is between the patient and the donor, not the doctor or the donor. Kidney transplantation is a very sophisticated procedure and requires a lot of testing and organ matching before kidney transplantation and cannot be done once the kidney is outside of the body.

Medical practitioners have demanded the government to implement the mechanism of an evaluation committee, empowered by Human Organs Transplantation Authority, to ensure fair process of kidney donations.

They urged the authorities concerned to reduce the lengthy paper work to save time because unnecessary delay might be fatal for the patients. Similarly, a first class magistrate must authorise the donation after ensuring the patient was not being coerced in doing so. They said the transplant of foreign patients should be streamlined as per rules and regulations in other Muslim countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia.