KARACHI: The provincial health department has sent a summary to the chief minister for approval requesting provision of grant of Rs1 billion for the establishment of a liver transplantation unit at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) in Karachi, it emerged on Thursday.

Officials said there was an ‘acute need’ for saving lives through transplantation as some 150,000 patients needed a liver transplantation every year.

They said that a sizeable number of people, who could afford or manage to come up with the money required for the operation, were visiting abroad for a liver transplantation because such a facility was not available in the country.

In the summary, the SIUT’s argument had been described as ‘justified’ when it said that the prevalence of hepatitis B and hepatitis C affected more than 1.5 million people and Sindh was hit by such fatal diseases seriously.

It said there was an urgent need for establishing a liver transplantation unit in Sindh and that the SIUT had a full infrastructure for a large kidney transplantation department and technical expertise and its trained staff provided ‘qualitative healthcare facilities’.

Besides, the summary noted that the SIUT gastroenterology hepatobilliary unit had performed three living donor liver transplantations in collaboration with the King’s College London.

It said the development scheme ‘establishment of liver transplantation unit in SIUT’ was already in the provincial ADP 2014-15.

A PC-1 duly prepared by the SIUT at a cost of Rs670 million has been forwarded to the planning and development department for consideration and approval of the provincial development working party (PDWP) forum.

Till the project received a formal nod from the PDWP, the officials said the SIUT had approached the authorities for funds through ‘grant-in-aid’ so that the project did not linger on further and precious lives could be saved.

The centre for the transplantation of liver is planned to be set up at the SIUT next to the Civil Hospital Karachi.

The country’s first liver transplant was performed on a six-month-old boy from Azad Kashmir at the SIUT headed by Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi and experts from the King’s College London.

Experts estimate more than 50,000 people die each year due to end stage organ failure. This figure includes 15,000 people with kidney failure, 10,000 with liver failure and 6,500 with heart failure. Majority of those lives could be saved if facilities and donated organs are in hand.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2015

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