Organ Transplant tourism is a term that has gained a lot of popularity in the last decade or so. By the way, this is not some fun tourism we are talking about. As the name indicates, transplant tourism is all about traveling to different lands, in pursuit of an organ. One common example of organ transplantation is a kidney transplant. You will be amazed by the number of people who are after a kidney. They travel miles in pursuit of a donor.
Organ transplant tourism has evolved majorly courtesy kidney transplants. Pakistan is no exception to organ transplant tourism, the country being one of the major hubs of this trade. This is a topic which we wish to do justice, hence today’s discussion. Today, we have a detailed look at the organ transplant tourism in Pakistan.
History of organ transplant tourism in Pakistan
Multiple factors promoted organ transplant tourism in Pakistan. The ban on organ trade in neighboring countries like India proved to be the most pivotal factor in this regard. Other factors included an absence of legislative laws and worldwide access to the donors via webpages.
Buyers flocked in from the Middle East and Europe, willing to pay even $30000 for a kidney transplant. Lucrative offers like these further helped in promoting organ transplant tourism in Pakistan. As a consequence, foreigners got more renal transplants than the local community, here in Pakistan. Numbers tell us that by the year 2007, 1500 out of 2500 organ transplants were performed for foreigners.
Poverty: A promoter for organ transplant tourism
The connection between poverty and organ transplant tourism is quite a straight forward one. Those who are living below the poverty belt will pretty much do anything for money. Kidney transplants offered individuals from the underprivileged class, a handsome sum. Hence, poorer folks begin to trade kidneys for money. A study tells us that 34% of the vendors who sold their kidneys lived below the poverty line, their daily wage is around $1.
Illiteracy and slavery also played their part in promoting the illegal organ transplant tourism in Pakistan. But then something miraculous happened, which added an ethical dimension to the organ transplant tourism in Pakistan. Yes, the magic word is legislation.
The Transplant Law
Efforts to regulate organ transplantation in Pakistan began in the early ’90s. Bills were introduced in the national assembly. The transplant ordinance is the result of all these efforts. It put a complete ban on commercial unrelated transplantation of locals and foreigners. All transplants are to be reported to a National Monitoring Authority within 48 hours of the transplant. Strict punishments were introduced in this regard. These included 10 years’ imprisonment and heavy monetary fines.
Impact of legislation on organ transplant tourism in Pakistan
Organ transplant tourism before the legislation was all about foreigners coming to Pakistan and exploiting the poor. That simply is not allowed anymore. There are more than 40 hospitals, whose transplants are given recognition by the national monitoring agency. While the propaganda floated is that transplant rates have declined, that is hardly the case in reality. Organ transplant tourism is flourishing well in the country, in a much more secure and legal manner. Supreme Court of Pakistan simply sealed the deal by using the following words in a historic judgment:
“The sale or purchase of human organs and transplant of foreigners who did not have legitimate family donors is against the spirit of Islamic laws”
The way forward
Organ transplant tourism has the potential to contribute to the country’s economy. More setups on the theme followed by SIUT are needed in Pakistan. There is not an iota of doubt about the talent that Pakistan has been blessed with when it comes to healthcare professionals. But that talent needs proper infrastructure to showcase its skills. Foreigners will flock in greater numbers if state-of-the-art facilities are available in the country. If proper procedures and regulations were to be followed, a healthcare revolution could begin.
Organ transplant tourism in Pakistan is a flourishing industry. Current efforts have to be nearly doubled if one is desirous of promoting it further. Proper infrastructure, rules, and regulations are needed in this regard. Hopefully, more efforts on administrative levels will be made in this regard in the future.