Illegal organ transplant

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RAWALPINDI Police raided basement of a plaza in Rawat and rescued 24 prospective organ ‘donors’ and also arrested four people — owner of the plaza, prime suspect and two of his facilitators. The accused were produced before the court on Monday where the magistrate declined to give their physical remand and instead granted judicial remand. This incident is just tip of the iceberg as, according to credible reports, illegal business of organ transplant especially those of kidneys has been thriving for several years with estimated 1,500 foreigners visiting Pakistan every year for transplant from all over the world. Organ trafficking operates in various ways. Victims can be kidnapped and forced to give up an organ; some, out of financial desperation, agree to sell an organ; or they are duped into believing they need an operation and the organ is removed without their knowledge. Dozens of children are abducted from different cities every month for organ trade and with this in view the FIA set-up a special cell in Islamabad to curb the menace. In early 2000s, India was supplying thousands of organs to foreigners but the focus shifted to Pakistan after Indian officials launched a crackdown against all those involved in this deadly business. Pakistan took first concrete step by enacting a law “Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act 2010” under which buying and selling of human organs for transplants is prohibited and donations from living donors are strictly restricted to blood relatives. However, the Rawalpindi case indicated that the law was not perfect as it prohibits police from charging someone for illegally transplanting kidneys. The power rests only with an 11-member body, constituted by the Federal Government and chaired by the Health Minister, which could file a case under the act. This cumbersome procedure, in other words, amounts to facilitating the trade and those involved in it. Those doing this business and medical professionals carrying out black-market operations are just criminals of the worst order and should be treated as such. FIA, police and Federal and Provincial Governments should launch a comprehensive exercise to identify and eliminate these masked terrorists.