Remembering Naveed Anwar

By Zubeida Mustafa

NOT many may recall Naveed Anwar today because when he slipped into the valley of death 14 years ago he went silently without making a splash in the media.

At a time when the Transplant Society of Pakistan is launching its deceased organ donation campaign we should be paying homage to Naveed and the four others* who followed his pioneering trail. They conclusively established that our society is capable of unbelievable generosity and care, even in the bad times we live in. Continue reading “Remembering Naveed Anwar”

Organ racket again

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

A REPORT in Dawn last week brought to light the unearthing of an illegal organ transplant centre in Lahore and the arrest of a doctor and six paramedics. A Pakistani donor and an Indonesian who was to receive the kidney were also present at the improvised clinic in a private house when the police raid took place.

This is not shocking because reports of the resurgence of the organ trade have resurfaced lately. Recently a doctor from the Dubai Medical College had reported that Continue reading “Organ racket again”

Resurgence of Kidney Tourism in Pakistan

by Zubeida Mustafa
Source: The WIP

• Dr. Rizvi with one of his young patients. Photograph courtesy of SIUT. •

A version of the following article was originally published August 12, 2009. In light of recent reports of illegal kidney transplants in Pakistan, the author has updated the article. – Ed. has updated the article. – Ed.
Continue reading “Resurgence of Kidney Tourism in Pakistan”

Fighting the greed element

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE love of money is the root of all evil. So we were told in the pre capitalist age. Now we are told the love of money is the root of all profits. And profit is king. This simple truth would explain why the bane of illicit organ trading is back with a bang. It is the money, stupid, as a shrewd cold blooded entrepreneur would explain.
Continue reading “Fighting the greed element”

Hope for the Children

Philip Ransley (L) and Jeeta Dhillon
By Zubeida Mustafa

A boy — seemingly healthy — is born to a young couple and there is much rejoicing in the family. But little do the parents know at the time that tragic news awaits them. The infant has urethral valve obstruction at birth and if he is not treated in time he will head for kidney failure.Today there is hope for the infant, thanks to the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), Karachi, which is the only medical facility in Pakistan that has a unit for paediatric urology. Dr Philip Ransley, a paediatric urologist from the UK, who helped in the establishment of a paediatric urology unit in SIUT, finds it ‘crazy’ that there is no other unit of its kind in a country of 180 million where 45 per cent of the population is under 15.

The parents of the children — 20,000 of them who visit SIUT’s biweekly paediatric clinic every year — have much to be thankful for. They are provided the best state-of-the-art treatment free of charge by specialists trained by world renowned urologists in an environment that is child friendly. Bladder extrophy, spina bifida, and traumas caused by accidents that could become the cause of much anguish to children and their parents no longer lead to despair. There is hope.

The silver lining in Pakistan’s dark cloud of the public health sector is the SIUT which is the creation of the iconic Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi who recently received a standing ovation in the National Assembly where every political party head lauded his efforts.

It was his vision — he always speaks of having a dream and then goes after it like a driven man — that saw the birth of the paediatric urology unit in 2002. The significance of this was driven home to me by Mr Philip Ransley who was in Karachi last week to conduct the Second International Paediatric Urology workshop. Mr Ransley retired a few years ago from London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital where he had trained under Sir David Innis, the legendary father of paediatric urology in Britain. He has made it his life mission to help the children of Pakistan and says, “Like many other areas of medicine, urology is a discipline that requires specialists trained for children. A urologist who operates on adults cannot really treat children’s urological problems with the expertise needed for it.”

“When I first started coming to Pakistan (he has been here dozens of times) my idea was to do surgery to rescue children from problems which no one could do here. Then following the dictum ‘give a man a fish and he feeds himself for a day but give him a fishing rod and he feeds himself for life’ I decided to pass on my expertise to the surgeons in Pakistan. The essence of our success is that SIUT’s paediatric urologists now take care of the vast majority of cases themselves — they have been quick on the uptake. They are even doing bladder reconstruction surgery which they had never done before,” Philip Ransley comments.

That explains the importance of the four day workshop held at the SIUT last week. The idea was to transfer knowledge of the new techniques that are continuously emerging in the world of medicine. Along with Philip Ransley and his colleague from London, Jeeta Dhillon, a perinatal urologist, the workshop was conducted by a guest faculty of four from France, the US, Germany and Italy.

Run with “amazing organisation of a military nature” (in Ransley’s words), the workshop was found “mind-blowing” by Jeeta Dhillon. There were three operation theatres running simultaneously throughout the workshop — unheard of in any surgical workshop anywhere in the world — ensuring continuity and intensive interaction. It also allowed the faculty to introduce the participants (about 150 of them from all over Pakistan) to different techniques. Laproscopic surgery, the latest entry in the field of paediatric urology and practised the world over, topped the agenda. Another area of interest was reconstruction of the bladder — a complex and time-consuming procedure.

What made the workshop so successful was not just the minute-to-minute scheduling done by Jeeta, the wonder woman of the exercise, but also the care and time taken in the selection of the 17 children operated upon — a nine-month process undertaken by Dr Sajid Sultan and the paediatric unit of the SIUT he heads. Jeeta pointed out that urologists don’t get to see so many cases in any workshop — and all free.

It was therefore a pity that the delegates from abroad — excepting the Turks — didn’t turn up. It is the image of Pakistan being an unsafe place that put them off. But the faculty who came were so pleased with their experience in Karachi that, as Philip Ransley hopes, they will talk about it and more people will visit.

Not surprisingly, WHO has decided to select SIUT as its collaborating centre for organ transplantation in the eastern Mediterranean.

Source: Dawn

Continue reading “Hope for the Children”

Remembering Chris Abbas

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

A YEAR ago, on Feb 19, 2009 Christian Zainab Abbas “slipped into the past”, to borrow her own phrase from a poem she wrote five months before her death. Ever since I had wanted to write about Chris, as I had always called her since she walked into my office at

Dawn with an article she had written for the paper several years ago.
Continue reading “Remembering Chris Abbas”

Where health is a birthright

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

WHILE validating the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Ordinance 2007 in the form of a bill, the National Assembly paid rich tributes to Prof Adibul Hasan Rizvi and the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), Karachi.

They deserved the recognition they received — belatedly though — from our lawmakers.
Continue reading “Where health is a birthright”

The ordinance must be flawless

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

LAST week, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry directed the government to promulgate without delay the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Ordinance 2007. In the absence of a law to regulate organ transplantation, unscrupulous elements have reduced Pakistan to what is dubbed as a ‘gurda kundi’ where humans are auctioned for their organs.
Continue reading “The ordinance must be flawless”

And now transplant tourism

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

IT IS ironical that at a time when the Pakistan government has dismally failed to promote the tourist trade, some unethical transplant surgeons in Lahore and Islamabad have succeeded in firmly placing the country on the world map of ‘transplant tourism’.

This is not something to be proud of as it is bringing a bad name to the country and also its medical profession.
Continue reading “And now transplant tourism”