ISLAMABAD: When 34-year-old Nizamuddin Ayubi travelled to Islamabad from the Gilgit district seeking treatment for hepatitis, he was informed by various hospitals that the only cure for him was a liver transplant, which wasn’t available at any public sector hospital.

Mr Ayubi belongs to a poor family, and because of his illness he has no sources of income, he said. But the people of his village collected Rs80,000 in donations for him to seek treatment.

“I went to a private hospital in the capital which carries out liver transplants. Not only was my Rs80,000 consumed in just two days, the hospital handed me an estimate of over Rs4.6 million for the transplant,” he toldDawn.

“I cannot afford such a huge amount, and now I have no choice but to suffer with the pain and wait for death. Unfortunately, poor people in Pakistan do not have the right to survive.”

The first paragraph of the estimate the private hospital provided Mr Ayubi, which is available withDawn, states that the transplant procedure would be confirmed after advance payment.

The donor must stay in hospital for eight days and the recipient for 15 to 18 days. The package would not be applicable in case of a prolonged stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) or additional surgery, the estimate says, and charges do not include any consultation after discharge.

The estimate includes post-transplant supervision at a cost of Rs50,000 to Rs60,000, not included in the package.

Mr Ayubi is not the only person suffering from the lack of liver transplant facilities. Every day, a number of people visit the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) seeking treatment for complications from hepatitis.

Treatment is provided to some, but those who require liver transplants are told to contact private hospitals.

A Liver Transplant Centre was established at Pims in 2009, at a cost of Rs220m, and a team of foreign doctors visited the hospital in 2012 and conducted a transplant at the centre, but the patient diedwithin 24 hoursand the team left.

No transplants have been conducted at the centre since, and even its equipment has gone missing. Recently, the Capital Administration and Development Division approved Rs603m for the centre after the intervention of the Supreme Court.

Pims Executive Director Dr Raja Amjad told Dawn not a single public sector hospital in the country provides liver transplants.

“Although Rs603m has been approved, it could not be released to Pims. Moreover, we need approval to recruit staff, as some doctors have to appointed from private hospitals on special packages. We have started training other staff and will be able to start liver transplantswithin six monthsif the grant is released,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2018

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