The time to take action against illegal organ trade is now, urged the Transplantation Society of Pakistan at a press conference at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation on Monday.
President for the society, Professor Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi, said even though there was a Human Organ and Tissue Transplantation Law, the dirty business continued to flourish in houses and some hospitals that advertise on the internet. Rich buyers travelled to Pakistan from Europe, Middle East and India.
According to Rizvi, Pakistan’s “cheap organ bazaar” is most frequented by foreigners who pay up to $30,000 for a transplant package.
However, due to the clandestine nature of the procedure now experts believe the price tag could be much higher.
The renewed effort to fight the trade comes in the wake of arrests of doctors and technicians who were caught red-handed in Lahore. “This is the first time an arrest has been made and three days later the other doctors have still not been taken into custody,” said Dr Mirza Naqi Zafar while speaking to The Express Tribune after the press conference. “It cannot be that hard to track them down.”
The society had previously pointed out the tragic death of a Omani national after an illegal transplantation procedure in Lahore.
Zafar believes that this is the right time to strike for the police, media and civil society. “If the law enforcers do not take action now then nothing will ever happen and the arrested will get away scot-free.” The raid was conducted after neighbours complained of suspicious activity in the house in Lahore, he said. It was not the outcome of a police investigation.
According to Zafar, the trade is rampant in areas of southern Punjab, particularly Kot Momin, near Sargodha.
Reports have been made of people selling their kidneys as recent as a month ago. Other cities where the trade is alive are Lahore and Rawalpindi. The doctors propose exemplary punishment in order to set a precedent to discourage other offenders.
When asked if the Supreme Court should take sou motu of the Lahore case as it has before in other matters relating to organ trade, Prof. Rizvi agreed.
He also was open to the idea of the Human Organ and Trade Authority (HOTA) being awarded additional powers for an implementation arm of the law. “Presently, it is just a monitoring body and can report on illegal activities but it is then the law enforcers who implement the law. HOTA is missing an implementation arm,” Zafar added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2011.
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