Cogs in the wheel

The whole issue of organ trade must be looked at holistically and with an eye to stopping it permanently

Editorial June 06, 2018

It is extremely distressing to learn that Pakistani gangs continue to serve as important cogs in the wheels of the international racket involving the illegal sale of human organs. The Federal Investigation Agency has busted a four-member gang that was immersed from head to toe in the unlawful and unethical practice. The agency’s timely intervention revealed an elaborate scheme stretching tens of hundreds of miles and crossing into the expanse of China and India. Members of the gang would take both recipients and donors to either of those neighbouring countries for a hefty fee. The sheer extent of their operations is staggering. Over a period of time, the gang sent as many as 40 recipients and donors to New Delhi and Beijing, respectively.

While it may not be too difficult to put the emergency brakes on these practices by nabbing the gang behind it, the whole issue of organ trade must be looked at holistically and with an eye to stopping it permanently. There are many other accomplices in this racket and each of them must be smoked out and punished for their actions. However, no clampdown on the illegal trade in human organs is possible without international collaboration and action.

Since a raft of forged documents such as birth certificates, affidavits, family registration certificates as well as fake attestations are needed for organ trade, it is important to ensure utter scrupulousness in all government and private documentation matters.

One of the most effective ways to discourage the commercial sale of organs and tissue is to get the state, medical practitioners and healthcare providers to promote donation of organs to be harvested from persons certified as brain dead in accordance with internationally-accepted protocols. Pakistan could also do with national and provincial registries that would set up a database and bank of organ donors as well as potential recipients.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2018.

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