LAHORE - The Punjab Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education department has posted Prof Faisal Masood, ex-Vice Chancellor King Edward Medical University, as Administrator/Director General of Punjab Human Organ Transplant Authority.

The decision of making PHOTA functional, at least on papers, has come in the aftermath of arrest of doctors including Dr Al-Tamash Kharral, General Secretary of Young Doctors Association (YDA) Punjab, for carrying out illegal transplantation at a rented house in a residential colony in Lahore.

Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute and YDA Punjab have also broken the silence by condemning the incident and demanding impartial probe.

Addressing a press conference at PKLI Secretariat on Monday, Prof Saeed Akhtar, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute and Transplantation Society of Pakistan, urged the nation to give due attention to the issue of organ trafficking. He appreciated the state institutions for quick response and arrest of culprits. “These doctors are a stigma on medical profession,” he added.

Prof Saeed Akhtar suggested setting up a centralised system to ensure a legalised organ donation and transplantation. He added that PKLI was ready to work with the government to set up such a system and monitor its implementation.

“Such systems in Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, UAE have brought them among nations with high organ donation. Pakistan, however, is not on the list.”

Although the public was accustomed to the idea of donating blood, Prof Akhtar said, donation of organs after death was still missing. “Lack of awareness about Islamic viewpoint on organ donation is the main reasons of low organ donation rate in Pakistan,” he pointed out.

He further said that passing of the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act 2010 has brought down the heinous practice of organ trafficking to a considerable extent and has improved the rate of living organ donation. However, the level of deceased organ donation rate was still negligible.

“This can be changed by raising public awareness through proper forums and dispelling any misconceptions that people may have about organ donation. Healthcare professionals and religious scholars are a critical link here since their attitudes and beliefs can influence public opinion.”

Prof Akhtar informed that PKLI’s first phase would be completed by the end of this year while first transplantation would be carried out in December 2017.

“This institute would be a state of the art center of international standard where transplantation would be carried out legally and all ethical formalities would be fulfilled,” he assured.

Condemning the incident, YDA Punjab has demanded impartial probe for bringing the real culprits to justice. At a meeting at Lahore General Hospital, the YDA office bearers said that the body has no relation with such people.

However, there was question that whether Dr Al-Tamash was a real culprit or wrongly implicated to damage the YDA. The participants also constituted a three member committee to probe the incident and submit report within three days.

YDA has demanded the government to give the committee access to Dr Al-Tamash for recording his version.