Punjab to expand cadaveric transplants

The Punjab Human Organ Transplant Authority (Phota) has agreed to expand cadaveric transplants in the province.

Donors who have consented to donate their organs after death are a common supply of organs for transplant. In this regard, the authority has tasked the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI), the Punjab Institute of Neuro Sciences, and the Punjab Ins­titute of Cardiology Lahore with issuing several necessary directives to meet the goals.

The institutes were tasked with recruiting religious clerics to issue edicts (fatwas) and raising public awareness about organ donation.

This was agreed at the nineteenth meeting of the Monitoring Authority of Phota, chaired by Punjab minister Khawaja Salman Rafique and held at the provincial department of specialized healthcare and medical education. The meeting was attended by Dr. Faisal Dar, Dr. Shahid Malik, Dr. Murtaza, Dr. Ghayasuddin Tayyab, and other officers.

Minister Rafique told Dawn that cadaveric donation consisted of organ donation from brain-dead individuals, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver. Three of the largest educational institutions in Lahore were treating several critically injured victims of traffic accidents, roof collapses, and bullet wounds. There were other additional causes of brain death, and the Punjab administration sought religious support to widen the scope of cadaveric transplantation.

“At the meeting, we decided to launch an awareness campaign through the country’s most prominent physicians and clerics,” the minister said, adding that the participants urged health professionals to work with religious leaders to educate and persuade the families of brain-dead patients about the benefits of organ donation.

The meeting also discussed hiring a new Phota director-general and the institution’s performance.

Rafique stated that the transplant authority would be more active in assisting people in desperate need of an organ transplant. The scope of the cadaveric transplant service should be broadened, he added, and he urged the relevant officials to intensify their efforts against those who traffic in human organs.

To end organ trafficking, the Punjab government approved the country’s first ‘swap transplant’ plan in early March, allowing patients access to organs from unrelated donors other than blood relatives.

The action by Phota added Pakistan to the short list of countries that offer this service, which allows an unrelated donor to donate an organ to a recipient whose family member will, in turn, donate an organ to another patient.

The medical community believes this may be a game-changer in Punjab’s campaign against illegal organ transplants, deeming it a groundbreaking step. It could also lower the number of patients forced to wait years for donors.