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April 30, 2011

Stop organ trade or quit, Dr Rizvi tells government


April 30, 2011

The President of Transplantation Society of Pakistan (TSP), Prof. Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi, has strongly criticized the government, the health ministry and the law-enforcing agencies for resurgence of organ trade in Pakistan, saying organ trade has gained momentum in the recent months despite promulgation of a law against it in the country.
“In recent months, thousands of poor people have sold their kidneys, and commercial transplantations are openly being carried out at hospitals in the large cities of the country, all under the nose of health officials, government functionaries and law enforcers,” Dr Rizvi told a crowded news conference at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) here on Friday.
Member of the National Assembly, Kishwar Zehra, Prof. Mirza Naqi Zafar, secretary-general of TSP, Prof. Aijaz Ahmed of the Pakistan Society of Nephrology and Prof. Ahmed Fawad of the Pakistan Association of Urological Surgeons also addressed the news conference.
On the occasion, video clips of several people who had sold their kidneys were also shown. These people also identified the surgeons who had carried out the transplantations as well as the hospitals where such surgeries were performed.
These interviews were recorded on behest of MNA Kishwer Zehra in order to highlight the thriving organ trade in the country despite promulgation of a law against it.
Dr Rizvi, who appeared to be highly disturbed over the resurgence of the organ trade in the country, went on to say that if the government and assemblies could not implement the law, they had no right to exist.
“If the assemblies cannot ensure implementation of law, they should be wound up as it would only be a waste of resources. The government should cease to function if it cannot implement the law,” he said, adding that every authority in the country knew what was happening in the country.
“We have sent letters to everybody, to the government officials, the

health authorities, HOTA (Human Organ Transplantation Authority) and even to the Supreme Court of Pakistan but to no avail,” he said.
Dr Rizvi said their news conference should be considered as an open letter against the resurgence of organ trade in the country.
He said after the failure of the government and law enforcing agencies to prohibit the organ trade in the country, he had pinned hopes on the civil society and the media to highlight the issues and not just to create awareness in this regard but also to pressure the authorities into eradicating this menace.
“Pakistan is still considered as an open bazaar for organ trade where hundreds of foreigners arrive every year and get transplants for 10,000 to 20,000 dollars,” he said.
Kishwer Zehra presented interviews of several people from a remote rural area of Punjab who had sold their kidneys in exchange for a few thousand rupees as they were under heavy debts and had no means to repay these loans except to sell their kidneys.
In these interviews, these people termed poverty and loans as the reasons that compelled them to sell their kidneys.
Dr Aijaz Ahmed of the Pakistan Society of Nephrology said that the human organ trade bill passed by the assembly had changed nothing as after a few months of its promulgation, organ trade had gained momentum and now this illegal trade was thriving in the country.
He disclosed on the occasion that commercial transplants often led to severe complications, and in most of the cases both the donor and the recipients died of these complications as in these transplants there was no system of follow-ups and post-transplant care.
Prof Ahmed Fawad of Pakistan Society of Urological Surgeons said the media should highlight the fact that organ transplant was not the end of the story as both the donor and the recipient became dependent on the immuno-suppressing drugs for the rest of their lives.
“Following commercial transplants, there is no system of follow-ups and in most of the cases, patients are brought to the SIUT and other such centers due to complications after the commercial transplants,” he said.
He also urged the government to immediately implement the human organ transplant law and put an end to the organ trade.

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