Undoubtedly, organ transplantations have the potential to save the lives of thousands of patients across the globe each year. However, the exploitative organ trade that is widespread in developing countries poses a grave threat to the lives of organ donors. Every year, numerous people from the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia travel to countries like India, Pakistan, China, Egypt, the Philippines, and others in search of financially vulnerable donors who are willing to part with one of their kidneys for compensation.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 10% of the 63,000 kidney transplants performed each year involve donors from developing countries who are not related to the recipients. In this commercial organ trade, it is typical for the donor to not receive any post-operative care, which can lead to severe consequences. Additionally, the donor typically receives only a small fraction of the amount that the recipient pays. This inhumane and unethical business involves malpractice and immoral behavior on the part of the doctors and hospitals where the transplant surgeries are conducted.
There is another dark aspect to this exploitative trade, and that is the fact that the donors often do not receive any post-operative care, which can lead to severe consequences. Clinics in Pakistan, for instance, reportedly charge organ recipients an average of $40,000, while the donor only receives between $1500 and $2000. This trade preys on the financial vulnerability of organ donors, which was unacceptable.
To ensure correct transplantation norms, the Government of Pakistan has successfully implemented legislation aimed at ensuring correct transplantation norms.
Following the ordinance’s approval, the National Human Organ and Tissues Transplantation Authority (HOTA) was established in Pakistan in 2010 in accordance with the legislation. HOTA is led by an administrator and includes several senior medical experts nominated by the Ministry of Health, as well as a WHO Representative who serves as a liaison between HOTA and WHO’s technical support and expertise. HOTA is primarily responsible for developing regulations, certifying hospitals’ eligibility to provide transplantation services, and ensuring that the necessary professional expertise is available.
Here are some key policies and regulations related to HOTA in Pakistan:
The HOTA Act: The Human Organ Transplantation Act 2010 is the main legislation that governs organ transplantation in Pakistan. This law regulates all aspects of organ transplantation, from the donation and retrieval of organs to the transplantation and post-operative care of patients.
Donor screening: HOTA requires that all potential organ donors undergo a thorough medical evaluation to ensure that they are healthy enough to donate an organ and that the donated organ is safe for transplantation.
Transplant centers: HOTA regulates the operation of transplant centers and ensures that they meet certain standards in terms of infrastructure, equipment, and personnel. Transplant centers must also maintain detailed records of all transplant procedures.
Organ allocation: HOTA establishes rules for the fair and transparent allocation of organs to patients in need. Organs are allocated based on medical needs and other factors, such as the patient’s age and overall health.
Prohibition of commercial trade: HOTA strictly prohibits the commercial trade of human organs. This means that it is illegal to buy or sell organs in Pakistan, and anyone caught doing so can be punished with imprisonment and fines.
Penalties for violation: HOTA imposes strict penalties on individuals or organizations that violate its regulations. This includes the suspension or revocation of licenses for transplant centers, fines, and imprisonment.
Overall, HOTA policies aim to promote ethical and safe organ transplantation in Pakistan and prevent the exploitation of vulnerable individuals for their organs.