Category Archives: Organ Trade and Donation

Times of paradoxes

By Zubeida Mustafa

WHAT a world of contrasts we live in. We have heartwarming tidings entwined with horrible news. We have compassionate souls struggling to save lives alongside brutes who blow the life out of people.

Then we have a government that is an intriguing compound of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Its conscience is not moved when it fails to provide security to the citizens while the police force guards the privileged of the land leaving ordinary folks vulnerable to acts of terror. But this very same government becomes the first to steer the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act 2013 (Thota) through the Sindh Assembly unanimously — an act of great humanity. Continue reading Times of paradoxes

Making deals with the devil

By Zubeida Mustafa

IN his recently published memoirs, Jagtay Lamhay, Justice Haziqul Khairi, retired chief of the Federal Sharia Court, recalls his judgment upholding the transplantation law in Pakistan. The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Ordinance (2007) had been challenged by some surgeons on the ground that it violated the Sharia.

Justice Khairi writes that the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) country chief in Pakistan, Dr Khalif Bille, described this as a “great” judgment. Soon thereafter the two Houses of parliament passed unanimously an act by the same name in 2010 to replace the ordinance. On that occasion the Assembly gave a standing ovation to Prof Adibul Hasan Rizvi, the director of the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation and the person responsible for spearheading the 15-year campaign for legislation to regulate organ transplantation and check organ trade in Pakistan. The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act (THOTA) was acknowledged by WHO as the best law on this subject in the world. Continue reading Making deals with the devil

Remembering Naveed Anwar

By Zubeida Mustafa

NOT many may recall Naveed Anwar today because when he slipped into the valley of death 14 years ago he went silently without making a splash in the media.

At a time when the Transplant Society of Pakistan is launching its deceased organ donation campaign we should be paying homage to Naveed and the four others* who followed his pioneering trail. They conclusively established that our society is capable of unbelievable generosity and care, even in the bad times we live in. Continue reading Remembering Naveed Anwar

Organ racket again

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

A REPORT in Dawn last week brought to light the unearthing of an illegal organ transplant centre in Lahore and the arrest of a doctor and six paramedics. A Pakistani donor and an Indonesian who was to receive the kidney were also present at the improvised clinic in a private house when the police raid took place.

This is not shocking because reports of the resurgence of the organ trade have resurfaced lately. Recently a doctor from the Dubai Medical College had reported that Continue reading Organ racket again

Hope for the Children

Philip Ransley (L) and Jeeta Dhillon
By Zubeida Mustafa

A boy — seemingly healthy — is born to a young couple and there is much rejoicing in the family. But little do the parents know at the time that tragic news awaits them. The infant has urethral valve obstruction at birth and if he is not treated in time he will head for kidney failure.Today there is hope for the infant, thanks to the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), Karachi, which is the only medical facility in Pakistan that has a unit for paediatric urology. Dr Philip Ransley, a paediatric urologist from the UK, who helped in the establishment of a paediatric urology unit in SIUT, finds it ‘crazy’ that there is no other unit of its kind in a country of 180 million where 45 per cent of the population is under 15.

The parents of the children — 20,000 of them who visit SIUT’s biweekly paediatric clinic every year — have much to be thankful for. They are provided the best state-of-the-art treatment free of charge by specialists trained by world renowned urologists in an environment that is child friendly. Bladder extrophy, spina bifida, and traumas caused by accidents that could become the cause of much anguish to children and their parents no longer lead to despair. There is hope.

The silver lining in Pakistan’s dark cloud of the public health sector is the SIUT which is the creation of the iconic Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi who recently received a standing ovation in the National Assembly where every political party head lauded his efforts.

It was his vision — he always speaks of having a dream and then goes after it like a driven man — that saw the birth of the paediatric urology unit in 2002. The significance of this was driven home to me by Mr Philip Ransley who was in Karachi last week to conduct the Second International Paediatric Urology workshop. Mr Ransley retired a few years ago from London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital where he had trained under Sir David Innis, the legendary father of paediatric urology in Britain. He has made it his life mission to help the children of Pakistan and says, “Like many other areas of medicine, urology is a discipline that requires specialists trained for children. A urologist who operates on adults cannot really treat children’s urological problems with the expertise needed for it.”

“When I first started coming to Pakistan (he has been here dozens of times) my idea was to do surgery to rescue children from problems which no one could do here. Then following the dictum ‘give a man a fish and he feeds himself for a day but give him a fishing rod and he feeds himself for life’ I decided to pass on my expertise to the surgeons in Pakistan. The essence of our success is that SIUT’s paediatric urologists now take care of the vast majority of cases themselves — they have been quick on the uptake. They are even doing bladder reconstruction surgery which they had never done before,” Philip Ransley comments.

That explains the importance of the four day workshop held at the SIUT last week. The idea was to transfer knowledge of the new techniques that are continuously emerging in the world of medicine. Along with Philip Ransley and his colleague from London, Jeeta Dhillon, a perinatal urologist, the workshop was conducted by a guest faculty of four from France, the US, Germany and Italy.

Run with “amazing organisation of a military nature” (in Ransley’s words), the workshop was found “mind-blowing” by Jeeta Dhillon. There were three operation theatres running simultaneously throughout the workshop — unheard of in any surgical workshop anywhere in the world — ensuring continuity and intensive interaction. It also allowed the faculty to introduce the participants (about 150 of them from all over Pakistan) to different techniques. Laproscopic surgery, the latest entry in the field of paediatric urology and practised the world over, topped the agenda. Another area of interest was reconstruction of the bladder — a complex and time-consuming procedure.

What made the workshop so successful was not just the minute-to-minute scheduling done by Jeeta, the wonder woman of the exercise, but also the care and time taken in the selection of the 17 children operated upon — a nine-month process undertaken by Dr Sajid Sultan and the paediatric unit of the SIUT he heads. Jeeta pointed out that urologists don’t get to see so many cases in any workshop — and all free.

It was therefore a pity that the delegates from abroad — excepting the Turks — didn’t turn up. It is the image of Pakistan being an unsafe place that put them off. But the faculty who came were so pleased with their experience in Karachi that, as Philip Ransley hopes, they will talk about it and more people will visit.

Not surprisingly, WHO has decided to select SIUT as its collaborating centre for organ transplantation in the eastern Mediterranean.

Source: Dawn

Continue reading Hope for the Children

Remembering Chris Abbas

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

A YEAR ago, on Feb 19, 2009 Christian Zainab Abbas “slipped into the past”, to borrow her own phrase from a poem she wrote five months before her death. Ever since I had wanted to write about Chris, as I had always called her since she walked into my office at

Dawn with an article she had written for the paper several years ago.
Continue reading Remembering Chris Abbas

Where health is a birthright

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

WHILE validating the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Ordinance 2007 in the form of a bill, the National Assembly paid rich tributes to Prof Adibul Hasan Rizvi and the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), Karachi.

They deserved the recognition they received — belatedly though — from our lawmakers.
Continue reading Where health is a birthright