Cadaver laws – even though their passage was much trumpeted and indeed rightly so – do not seem to have made much of a difference in terms of finding a way to stop the malaise. The arrest of three members running a Kidney racket in Lahore, though it is laudable, is also a grim reminder that it is business as usual.

Transplant laws seem to have met the fate that other laws in the country are consigned to; forgotten entirely, or broken by those who are meant to guard and enforce them. For the arrests, obviously, the police deserve a pat on the back; however, what prompted them was that the complainant approached with the grievance that he had been paid less than agreed by the gang he had sold his kidney to. The police would likely not have been in hot pursuit of the gang before the complaint was made.

Devastating poverty plays a leading role in the tragedy. Consider the dilemma of those who aren’t afraid to let the surgeons’ knife remove one of their kidneys for good. Cracking down on the trade does not need orders from the prime minister or high officials, which sadly is thought of as necessary every time something is to be done. And doctors and medical staff involved in the racket, are equally culpable, in fact more so since without them, the surgeries cannot be performed. Run as professionally as a business, the black market for kidneys is booming. Totally ignored are the dangers that the donors in most of the cases run. Post-operative care, kidney function tests, regular examinations, these are luxuries kidney donors are not afforded.

Greater checks are needed on private hospitals where contrary to government-run hospitals, inspections are rare. Regular inspections and professional audits are necessary to ensure alarming irregularities such as the kidney trade can be visibly reduced. For those enabling the business, this is only made possible through the easy availability of persons unable to scrimp together a living day-to-day. Unless Pakistan takes stock of the fact that its population is booming and it has not prepared itself to be able to provide them employment, the roots of the problem will remain. Desperate times make for desperate measures – the people being forced to sell their organs are prisoners of circumstance. Those who take advantage are pitiless profiteers.