The excitement surrounding singer Alamgir’s trip to Pakistan ended with his departure back to Atlanta, US scheduled for Monday night.
The Pakistani pop icon was back home to raise funds for a double kidney transplant after he was diagnosed with double kidney failure in 2004. He has been regularly going for dialysis since then. His trip was, however, fruitful as his press conference at the Karachi Arts Council proved; he announced that Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad had made a significant contribution of fifty thousand dollars.
“The smile that you are seeing on my face is because of the immense support of the governor and the Arts Council,” he told the media. “Fifty thousand dollars is a huge amount and I can’t thank them enough.”
Alamgir was accompanied by the president of Karachi Arts Council, Ahmed Shah, who had played a crucial role in helping acquire the funds.
“When I heard about Alamgir’s health I immediately contacted the cultural ministry but they weren’t very efficient,” Shah said. “However, the governor surprised us all by such a quick and effective response.”
According to Alamgir, the entire procedure of buying a potential kidney and having the transplant costs a hundred thousand dollars. “The doctors had warned me about my deteriorating health well in advance which is why I had started to do some fund-raising concerts in the US.” The Pakistani community was supportive and he made $35,000 on his own.
For his part, Shah was excited about the support that Alamgir has received in Pakistan and announced that they would organise a Jashne-e-Alamgir once the singer returns to Pakistan in September after sorting out his transplant.
In an earlier interview with The Express Tribune, Alamgir had said that Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) had been in contact but its policy about donors was quite strict. They had told him that only a family donor would be entertained. “But that is not possible as my whole family has polycystic kidney disease,” he said. “So I have to look for kidneys [outside] my family.”
TV producer Athar Waqar Azeem, who is now a part of HUM TV, was present at the press conference.
“I remember Alamgir from the time when he used to play the guitar in Sohail Rana’s music show and since then his passion hasn’t died,” he recalled. “A couple of days back he was about to collapse in a music performance and I asked him to rest but he didn’t listen to me and said that as singer it was his duty to entertain them and he would.”
Alamgir ended the press conference by singing Pankaj Malik’s classic “Yeh Raatein” and followed it by a dua or prayer in Arabic that he recited for everyone’s well being.
In Pakistan commercial kidney transplants are illegal, that is if you buy a kidney from someone. If there is an unrelated donor, you have to present the case first to SIUT, who evaluates that there is an acquaintance and no cash has exchanged hands. It then sends the case to the Human Organ Transplantation Authority for further evaluation and approval.
“If you have a living family donor, SIUT will charge you nothing,” explained Prof. of Pathology Dr Mirza Naqi Zafar of SIUT. “If you don’t have a family donor, SIUT will not take your case.”
The only unrelated donors SIUT takes for transplantation are husband and wife cases.
In Lahore some hospitals may charge as much as Rs300,000 to Rs400,000.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2012.