LAST week saw a welcome focus on promoting deceased, or cadaveric, organ donation that, by meeting the need of patients suffering from end-stage organ failure, would curb illegal commercial transplants. At a news conference on Saturday by members of a coordination committee set up at Karachi’s Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation by the Supreme Court, speakers pointed out that lack of public awareness of cadaveric donation was a major stumbling block.
Every effort must be made — and the media of course can play a vital role here — so that the idea of pledging to donate one’s organs after death takes root in the minds of the country’s population. The news conference followed the conclusion of a two-day conference on the illegal transplant trade and the promotion of deceased organ donation.
It is a sad indictment of Pakistan’s societal attitudes that legal cadaveric donation has not yet managed to inspire an appreciable number of individuals, even amongst the educated classes, to undertake this selfless act. Led by Prof Adib Rizvi, director of SIUT, several members of the medical community and civil society spent many years lobbying for the passage of legislation to criminalise commercial transplants. The legal framework, which also regulates cadaveric organ donation, has been in place for some years now, and it behoves the more enlightened members of society to lead by example.
Some years ago, the then president Asif Ali Zardari pledged to donate his organs, a laudable step for a personality in a position of influence. Just last month, the chief justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar, also said he would donate his organs. Pakistan needs far more people in prominent positions to show others the ethical and humanitarian way to help those who are in need of a new lease of life. It defies all principles of justice and ethics that people be coerced by whatever reason to ‘sell’ their organs. Cadaveric organ donation can help curb such a reprehensible trade.
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