President Zardari signs human organs transplant bill
President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday became the first President to donate all his body organs, after signing a landmark bill to regulate transplant of human organs in the country. The President made the announcement of donating his whole body after his life, as he inked the document in a ceremony held at Aiwan-e-Sadr, also attended among others by Federal Ministers and health experts.
President Zardari said he took the decision in light of Shaheed Benazir Bhuttos philosophy of living for others. The President said Pakistan was singled out in the world community due to the notorious trade of organ transplant of body organs and urged the Parliament and the doctors to create awareness about the issue among the masses. He asked the doctors community to inform the government in case of any violation and help save precious lives.
No law can be effective without peoples support, the President said and sought the help of the masses in countering the illegal trade.
The law that now makes sale and unauthorised transplant of body organs punishable with up to 10 years in prison provides for a regulatory mechanism, including a high-level federal monitoring authority and evaluation committees, for the removal, storage and transplantation of human organs and tissues for therapeutic purposes.
The President said by using modern technology, Pakistan can be made a better place to live in and appreciated the political consensus evolved to make the legislation a success.
The bill states that any living donor, who is not less than 18 years of age, may voluntarily donate any organ or tissue of his body during his lifetime to another living person genetically and legally related. The other person must be a close blood relative of the donor and the donation of an organ or a part or tissue by a person for therapeutic purposes shall be regulated in the manner as may be prescribed.
The bill also provides for donation to be effective after death if a person aged at least 18 years, authorizes any medical institution or hospital approved by a 10-member monitory authority headed by the health minister and including heads of organizations of the medical profession and specialists.
It says transplants and removal of human organs shall only be carried out by recognized professionals after a written certification from an evaluation committee.The bill prescribes an imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine of up to one million rupees for those involved in the removal and human organs without the prescribed authority as well as their sale. Contravention of other provisions of the law will be punishable with up to three years of imprisonment or with a fine of up to Rs 300,000, or with both.
A medical practitioner convicted for unauthorized removal of human organs for transplant will also be liable to appropriate action by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, including removal from its register for three years for the first offence and permanently for the subsequent offence.
The bill further states that any person, who is not less than 18 years of age, may donate any of his organs or tissues for transplantation before his death – after a written authorization duly signed and verified by the respective evaluation committee – and authorize any medical institution or hospital duly approved by the monitoring authority for this purpose.
The evaluation committee, to comprise of a surgical specialist, a medical specialist, a transplant specialist, a nephrologist and a neurophysician and local notables having a good record of social service, would be notified by the federal government soon after the passage of the bill.
The monitoring authority would be headed by the health minister and consist of the health secretary as secretary of the authority. Members of the authority would include the Pakistan Army surgeon general, the Transplantation Society of Pakistan president, the Pakistan Medical Research Council executive director, the Ophthalmological Society of Pakistan president, the Pakistan Medical Association of Pakistan president, the Pakistan Society of Gastroenterology president, a surgical transplant specialist and any other important medical specialists whom the government may nominate as members.