ISLAMABAD, Aug 17: The commercial dealings in organs got yet another lease of life when the government decided not to promulgate the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Ordinance 2007, already approved by the cabinet, and instead introduce a bill in the National Assembly on the last day of the current session of the lower house of parliament, ostensibly under pressure from the lobby patronising organs trade in the country.
There is little possibility that the present National Assembly, nearing the end of its life, would be able to take up the bill.
Sources claim the last-minute change in strategy, which appears to be no more than an attempt to further delay the promulgation of the law, was done on the instructions of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz who had earlier in January turned down a health ministry’s proposal not to refer it to the cabinet and instead advise President Musharraf to promulgate the ordinance — a move that delayed the process by at least eight months.
Government’s haste was evident from the absence of federal health minister, minister of state for health and parliamentary secretary for health from the house at the time of introduction of the bill.
The Supreme Court had earlier given one month to the government to legislate on transplantation of organs. The deadline expires in the first week of September and the court would resume hearing of the case on September 3.
Federal Secretary Health Khushnood Lashari gave a very simplistic explanation of introducing the bill on the last day of the session saying: “We (the government) were not aware that the National Assembly was going to be prorogued.
President of Transplant Society Dr Adib-ul-Hassan Rizvi said he was utterly disappointed by the government move.
The bill has now been placed before the parliament for the fifth time during the past decade and a half, but on each occasion it failed to get through because of intense opposition from the lobby opposing the law.
During all this delay the kidney trade thrived and the business in the country is today valued at almost Rs one billion a year.
Prior to this latest move by the government, certain controversial clauses, like payment of compensation to unrelated donors, were inserted in the draft of the ordinance that was placed before the cabinet at its August 1 meeting. However, the government under pressure from civil society and doctors’ associations removed the controversial clauses and the ordinance looked imminent.
Annually 2000 kidney transplantations are carried out in the country. Of these 500 are performed in government hospitals from living related donors. The rest 1,500 are from unrelated kidney sellers and these transplants are performed in private hospitals. About 900-1,000 of these are for foreigners who come from more than 20 countries of the Middle East, North America, Europe and South Asia and paying hefty amounts. The rest are locals.
Those who are non-affording and have no family donors rely on donations from family, friends and social welfare organisations to pay for huge costs of transplantation at private hospitals. Once transplanted they find payment for follow-up medicines particularly immunosuppressive drugs difficult which can cost between 10,000 to15,000 rupees per month. Ultimately they stop medication and lose their transplanted kidneys. So the unrelated commercial transplant seldom helps them in the long term as the poor recipients hardly bear subsequent costs.
Commercial dealings of kidneys are centred in Lahore and Rawalpindi and majority of the kidney sellers are from rural Punjab, almost 70 per cent of them are bonded labourers. These desperate people sell their kidneys for Rs70,000 to 120,000 mainly to pay off their debts. Recent surveys have shown that 95 per cent of the sellers do not achieve their objectives and remain desperately poor and in debt. Selling their kidneys brings no financial benefit and many complain of their payment being siphoned by middleman and hospital for travel and operation expenses. Moreover, most have feeling of guilt and they are depressed and often unable to keep their livelihood.
Shame on the government!!!
So what happens when legislature fails in its duties….
Here… it goes…..
Doctor, ASI arrested in kidney sale scam
ISLAMABAD, Aug 17: Police have arrested a doctor, an Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police and their two accomplices, on the charge of selling the kidney of a jobless person for Rs1 million and pocketing the money.
Police sources said on Friday that the hunt was also on for a police constable and his collaborator involved in the scam.
Those already arrested, namely Dr Zulfiqar, his personal assistant Saleemullah, ASI Shakeel Ahmed and agent Shaukat, have been remanded into custody for five days by a magistrate.
Ironically the scam surfaced on a day the government introduced a bill on regulating the business of transplantation of human organs in the National Assembly at its last sitting of the current session.
This action was seen as a delaying tactic as the federal cabinet had approved recently an ordinance on the same subject on the directive from the Supreme Court.
According to police Usman Rana, 24, arrived in Islamabad from Lahore in February in search of a job. One Tariq lured him into selling one of his kidneys for Rs1 million.
Usman was operated upon in a private hospital in Rawalpindi run by a retired army general and his kidney was sold to a patient from the UK, the police said.
Sub-inspector Mohammad Ahmed, who is investigating the case, told Dawn that Usman started knocking at the doors of senior police officials after receiving just Rs100,000 for his kidney and developed pain in his second kidney.
The investigating officer said ASI Shakeel Ahmed, who had friendly relations with kidney agent Shaukat, met Usman and assured him to get him more money. He allegedly contacted Dr Zulfiqar and coerced him into paying Rs15,000 more to Usman.
However a police source said the ASI pocketed the extra money.
A case was eventually registered against the people named in the scam. While four of them have been arrested search is on for police constable Munir and his accomplice Tariq.