The Long Road from the Kidney Bazaar: A Commentary on Pakistan’s Progress Towards Self-sufficiency in Organ Transplantation

Dominique E. Martin


The dark history of transplant tourism in Pakistan demonstrates the hazards of unregulated cross-border markets in human organs. Trading on existing national and international social inequities, ‘transplant tourism’ offers dubious benefits for transplant recipients and attractive profits to those facilitating the industry at the expense of the world’s poor. The impact of Pakistan’s 2007 Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissue Ordinance and the sustained efforts of transplant professionals and societal groups led by the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation, show that organ trading can be effectively discouraged and equitable programs of organ procurement and transplantation pursued despite multiple challenges. In this paper, the factors that have contributed to Pakistan’s progress towards self-sufficiency in organ transplantation are identified and discussed. The case of Pakistan highlights the need for countries to protect their own organ and tissue providers who may be vulnerable in the global healthcare market. Pakistan provides an excellent example for other countries in the region and throughout the world to consider when regulating their own transplantation programs and considering the pursuit of national self-sufficiency.

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