ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Institute of Medical Science (Pims) is hoping to get a multi-organ transplant centre, worth over Rs10 billion, under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

To be established under a soft loan, the project will make it possible to transplant all kinds of human organs in Pakistan and the transplants will also cost less.

The Pims management is hoping to conduct the first liver transplant surgery by the end of the current year.

Centre to be established via soft loan, will make possible transplants of all kinds of human organs in Pakistan

“A Chinese delegation headed by Vice President Medical Group of Qingdao University Dr Yunjin Zang has been visiting Pakistan and during our meetings, it has been decided that a Chinese team will train Pims staff and that the transplants will be cheaper or even free for Pakistani citizens. However, foreigners including patients from the gulf and neighbouring countries, will be charged,” Pims Executive Director Dr Raja Amjad told Dawn.

He said Dr Zang is one of the most credible surgeons in China and has done some 2,000 liver transplants.

“During our meetings, we have reached the consensus that the centre will be established through a soft loan and that a Chinese team will start the transplants and will also train hospital staff.

Dr Amjad said that the investment will be made under CPEC so taking permissions and meeting other legal and departmental requirements for the project will not take much time.

“I think this will be a huge development in the health sector because currently, people have to transplant human organs, especially livers, from abroad including China, India and other countries. Visas for medical treatment are given across the world but Pakistani patients do not get visas for visiting India and they suffer a lot,” he said.

“Once the facility is established, I am sure that not only Pakistani patients will get quality treatment at cheaper costs but a large number of patients from the Gulf countries, Afghanistan and elsewhere will also be able to get transplants from the new centre,” Dr Amjad said.

According to a Pims statement, a liver transplant surgeon from China visited the hospital and gave a presentation to Prof Tanveer Khaliq, Dr Mumtaz Niazi, Dr Ijaz Qadeer and the Pims executive director.

The Chinese team expressed interest in helping and supporting Pims in upgrading the liver transplant unit, agreed to train doctors and hold 30 liver transplants in the hospital during the first phase. Dr Amjad requested the team to bring the proposal in writing to be presented to the Ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division and the government.

The project for a liver transplant centre at Pims was started in 2009 at the cost of Rs220 million and in 2012, a foreign team visited Pakistan and conducted a transplant but the patient died within 24 hours. The team went back and no transplant has been conducted since. The equipment of the centre has also gone missing.

Not a single government hospital provides liver transplants and patients have to go abroad for the procedure or they get treatment from private hospitals which charge Rs5 million for the procedure.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2018