Organ-ising legal donations

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The notoriety of illegal organ trade is affecting legal organ donation efforts, Pakistan Today has learnt.

Previously, no law had existed on organ transplantation. The Supreme Court, taking notice, drafted a legislation according to which relatives of the deceased would be given top priority for organ transplants. Despite proper legislation, the stigma of illegal organ transplants is proving to be a hurdle as people are still not willing to donate organs of their deceased relatives.

In order to cope with the dilemma, a comprehensive policy for the transplantation of human organs such as heart, liver and kidney, has been evolved by various heads of government hospitals according to which human organs would be transplanted to the patients in need according to a prior testament by the deceased.

The decision came in a high-level meeting presided over by Punjab Institute of Cardiology Chairman Board of Management, and Head of Human Organs Transplantation Program, Dr Jawad Sajid Khan. The meeting was attended by Postgraduate Medical Institute (PGMI) Principal Prof Dr Anjam Habib Vohra, Dr Khalid Mahmood, Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) Chief Executive Dr Bilal Zakariyya.

It was decided in the meeting that in case of clinical death of the patient having already given the testament, his or her organs would be transplanted to the patient in need. Moreover, a country-wide campaign supported by religious scholars, social organisations, media and dignitaries associated with health sector would also be launched regarding transplantation of human organs.

Addressing the meeting, Dr Vohra said that human organs transplantation had been in practice in Europe and US. He said that after framing a proper policy, it would also be implemented in Pakistan.

Talking to Pakistan today, Vohra further said the attitudes need to be changed. “In the West, people understand if a patient’s brainstem is dead, he or she should be taken off the ventilator and his organs may be donated to someone. However, here people don’t understand this and insist that the patient is living,” he said.