PESHAWAR -- A government body in charge of medical transplants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has made strides not only in curbing illegal organ transplants but also in enabling organ donations.
In February, the KP Health Department established the Medical Transplant Regulatory Authority (MTRA) to regulate, monitor and control all human transplants.
The authority implements the 2014 MTRA Act, which seeks to curb illegal transplants and oversee hospitals on organ transplants.
"There were complaints of illegal transplants in the city for which patients were charged exorbitantly by untrained doctors," Dr. Fazal Majeed, the deputy administrator of the MTRA, told Pakistan Forward November 9. "Now, we have given permission to well-equipped and well-staffed hospitals to carry out the transplants."
Patients were coming to KP from other provinces for transports because no law on the matter existed in KP, said Majeed.
"We have been receiving patients who underwent transplants by the wrong practitioners because the law will no longer tolerate the illegal practice," he added.
Strict enforcement of the MTRA law is promoting good medical practices in the province, say local officials.
Committees formed under the MTRA are monitoring transplants and ensuring compliance with prescribed standards at recognised medical institutions and hospitals, according to KP Secretary for Health Abid Majeed.
"We are setting up a registry and national and regional networks for evaluating the quality and outcome of transplant centres and for raising awareness about organ donations," he told Pakistan Forward.
"A living donor who is not younger than 18 may voluntarily donate any organ to any other living close blood relative and legally related persons, including parents, siblings, sons and daughters and spouses, for treatment," he said, citing the law.
"Our committees conduct extensive research to trace the relations between donors and recipients through NADRA [National Database and Registration Authority] data, while religious scholars have been tasked to work on the Islamic aspect," he explained.
Khyber Teaching Hospital, Lady Reading Hospital, Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC), Rehman Medical Institute (RMI) and the North West General Hospitals have been authorised to carry out corneal transplants, Prof. Asif Malik, the administrator of the MTRA, told Pakistan Forward.
The Institute of Kidney Disease (IKD) Hayatabad has done six kidney transplants, saving those patients' lives, he said, adding that RMI is set to begin transplanting livers.
The main problem is a lack of a culture of organ donation locally, forcing Pakistan to rely on organs donated by overseas Pakistanis, said Prof. Ziaul Islam, president of the Pakistan Society of Ophthalmologists.
"We need to launch an advocacy campaign for promoting organ donations," he said. "We will gear up efforts to explore and support international collaboration with deceased-donor programmes."