The recently passed law on transplantation by the Sindh Assembly will curb the illegal trade of organs and encourage donors to help patients who are truly needy.
Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) organised a seminar on Saturday to discuss the Human Organ and Tissue Transplantation Law of 2010 in detail. “Sindh became the first province to implement the law, and that must be appreciated,” said SIUT director Prof. Adibul Hasan Rizvi, who is also the president of the Transplantation Society of Pakistan. “Other provinces should also follow as this will help develop their health sector overall.”
The Human Organ and Tissue Transplantation Law was passed earlier by the National Assembly and was subsequently signed by the president in 2010.
When the 18th Amendment was implemented and the health sector was devolved to the provinces, the law became, however, nullified and it was left to the four provinces to ratify the law from their respective legislatures. On February 27, the Sindh Assembly adapted the law banning the commercialisation of organ transplantation.
According to Dr Rizvi, the law aims to increase living and deceased organ donation and check unfair practices and commercialisation of organ transplantation.
The ratified law will enable any person, whose will says so, to become an organ donor. If there is no such declaration available and the person has been declared ‘brain dead’, in that case, a living spouse, parents or an adult member of the family will be authorised to give consent to retrieve any organ for transplantation at an institution or hospital recognised by the monitoring authority.
The new law also imposes severe punishments on anyone found indulging in illegal organ trade, pointed out Justice Majida Rizvi. The punishment will come in the form of imprisonment for a term of 10 years and a fine of up to Rs1 million.
With the proper implementation, the law will also fix Pakistan’s reputation as a “cheap organ bazaar”, said Justice Rizvi, explaining how people from overseas would buy organs from poor people in Pakistan with the help of middlemen and corrupt medical professionals. The new law ensures that organ donation of Pakistani citizens will not be permissible to citizens of other countries, she added.
In the last decade, commercial buying and selling of organs threw Pakistan into the infamous kidney trade.
As India worked to reduce the illegal trade within its borders more and more transplant tourists turned to Pakistan and by 2005 Pakistan became a popular destination for transplant tourism.
Almost 1,500 foreigners were coming annually to purchase kidneys and receive transplants in private hospitals.
According to statistics by SIUT, 50,000 people die each year due to end-stage organ failure in which 15,000 die due to kidney failure, 10,000 die of liver failure and around 6,500 die of heart failure.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2013.