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April 25, 2021

Three livers transplanted in 24-hour marathon surgeries at DUHS


April 25, 2021

Three more liver transplants were successfully carried out at the Ojha Campus of the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) in 24 hours under the supervision of eminent Pakistani transplant surgeon Dr Faisal Saud Dar, who urged the government to immediately initiate a cadaveric organ donation programme in the country so that organs of brain-dead persons could help save lives of people with organ failure.

“At least 8,000 people annually require liver transplants in Pakistan to save their lives due to end-stage liver disease. Similarly, thousands of people require kidney transplants, pancreas and corneal transplants in the country due to organ failure. Lives of these people can only be saved by launching and promoting a cadaveric organ donation programme in the country,” Dr Dar told The News while supervising the liver transplants at the OT Complex of the Ojha Campus.

A team of DUHS transplant surgeons, including Dr Jahanzeb, Dr Kiran and Dr Iqbal, performed three complex back-to-back liver transplants at the Ojha Campus, where large portions of healthy livers from donors were surgically removed and transplanted into their relatives who were facing hepatic failure or end-stage liver disease.

Liver transplant surgeries are being supervised by Dr Dar, the father of Pakistan’s liver transplant programme who has so far performed over 1,400 such operations, including 1,070 in the country. Every month Dr Dar visits the Ojha Campus, where a team of DUHS surgeons carried out the transplants under his supervision, sitting in the operation theatre and watching his trained surgeons perform the sophisticated task.

Urging the federal and provincial authorities to immediately launch a cadaveric organ donation programme in Pakistan, Dr Dar said that at least two dozen people daily face brain-death at various health facilities in the country, and their organs remain functional for several hours after their brain death, so the organs could be utilised to save the lives of people who need organ transplants.

“There is an urgent need to start such an organ donation programme in Pakistan, as thousands of people are dying annually here due to organ failure. If family members of a person who faces brain death but not circulatory death allow their organs to be removed and transplanted into a patient, it can save many precious lives in the country,” he said, but added that it is very difficult at the moment to convince people to allow the extraction of organs from their loved ones’ bodies.

Dr Dar, who was recently appointed the chief executive officer of the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute & Research Centre in Lahore, said that vital organs of a person remain functional between 30 minutes and two hours after their circulatory death, and added that with the family’s consent and the availability of trained surgeons and a vibrant Human Organ Transplant Authority, organs of a deceased person can save many lives in Pakistan.

Conceding that relatives of the people who themselves wish to donate their organs to others after death refuse to allow the removal of organs from the bodies of their loved ones, he maintained that both media and the government should initiate a campaign to promote cadaveric donation as they promoted blood donation, which also used to be considered taboo.

“Now many people regularly donate blood, but they know that it is a safe procedure and they would lose nothing by donating a pint or two of their blood. Similarly, people need to know that their organs after their death would cause no harm to them. Instead, they would be used to save lives, which would be a blessing for the donors in the afterlife.”

According to him, the Ojha Campus and the Sindh Institute of Urology & Transplantation could be the centres for cadaveric donor transplants, as both the health facilities had trained surgeons and all the best equipment and facilities. He said Karachi was the best place in Pakistan to launch such a programme for saving lives of people with organ failure.

Replying to a query, he said the Government of Pakistan could follow Iran’s cadaveric transplant programme, and added that as people in Pakistan were not yet ready to donate their own and their relatives’ organs after death, this could be initiated with people who do not have any relatives, and their organs could be used to save others’ lives. “It can be started from unclaimed persons facing brain death, who don’t have anybody to claim them after their death.”

‘Vo big deal’

Dr Dar, who also performed the first successful liver autotransplant in Pakistan a couple of weeks ago, said it was a “no big deal” and a very significant procedure, adding that now most of the people facing end-stage liver disease were asking for autotransplant, in which no donor was required.

“Liver autotransplant is not like a great achievement in the history of surgeries. This is not required very often. We need liver transplants where healthy donors donate portions of their organs to save lives of their relatives with end-stage liver disease,” he said, and added that after the publicity of liver autotransplant, everybody was asking for this procedure, which was not possible and suitable for every patient with liver disease.