The sound of my pager breaks the silence. A text message flashes in my pager. . “Mr XX is now a donor”. An attempt by the resident doctor to keep me informed of my patients. This text seems apparently meaningless to anybody, but these words potentially carries a meaningful life for half a dozen souls.

A little background. Mr XX was in the neuro intensive care unit after a highspeed motor vehicle crash. His brain injury was increasingly too impossible for us to take care of, the hope of a recovery was fading rapidly. In the morning I had a long conversation with the family, the parents, the siblings. The family was in agreement, if there is no hope, the doctors can harvest the organs of Mr XX to be used to save the lives of others.

Now, as soon as Mr XX was declared brain dead, his status changed from being a patient to a DONOR.

An extremely organized donor agency then takes over the body. They work with supercomputer precision, speed. They keeps the body viable for better donation, do all the screening tests, extensive computerized database starts searching for possible recipients, arrange organ harvest and transplantation. All happens within hours. Organs are flown from coast to coast within minutes notice to the matched recipient.

A bunch of people receives their most awaited telephone call ever.
” Linda/John/Betty/Steve….your lung, heart, kidney, liver… is ready. Let’s get ready for operation within the next hour”.

Someone in california gets a much needed lung , heart goes to connecticut to renew a young girls life, the liver emergently flies to Nebraska to save a life. So are all other organs.

Each day, in USA, about 74 people receive organ transplants. However, 18 people die each day waiting for transplants that can’t take place because of the shortage of donated organs.

Between January to March of 2006, total 5207 organs were donated from deceased donors and 1,705 organs were donated by living relative donors.

USA, like any other developed first world ountries, only allows living relative donor of certain organs and cadeveric donors. NO PURCHASE OR SALE OF ANY ORGAN IS ALLOWED.

All of those 1705 living donations in 3 months between January 06 to March 06, came form family members, may be the loving sister, may be brother, may be the child or may be one of the parents.

This is the scenerio of this side of the world, The USA.

Now let’s see what happens on the other side of the world, in Bangladesh, our land of birth. We claim we have much better family values than the west.

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1. My friend calls from Madras, India and informs me that his elderly mother in law has just passed away. She received a kidney transplantation last week and has been critically sick since then. The young girl, the kidney donor, who was selected from a group of dozens of interested matched kidney seller, was doing fine.

2. Not too long ago I received a chain mail requesting financial donation for a BUET student, the mail was,

Our BUET friend XXXXX who lives in Ottawa, Canada lost both of his kidneys about two years ago. He is doing dialysis three times a week. There is a long waiting list(10 to 15 years waiting) in Canada for kidney transplantion since people here do not sell organs. He found somebody in Bangladesh who is willing to sell one of his kidneys. He needs to go to Madras with that person to do the transplantion. The whole process including recovery and rest will probably take three months and will cost around US$25,000. He does not have that much money

.

I replied,the BUET student can live a meaningful functional life thanks to hemodialysis and Canadian healthcare system. But if I have to donate money, I’ll donate to that seller who is compelled to sell an organ out of poverty. And canadians donate their oragns for their family. Why can’t we?

3. If you happen to travel to Madras hospital district, you will face these repeating obscene events. Dozens of elderly out of shape man and woman, accompanied by equal number of young healthy people. The poor youth will sell their kidney and the older rich will buy it. One’s goal is freedom from disease and the others is freedom from poverty.

4. Most of us are not ready to donate part of our body for the loved one, we would rather buy a kidney from some else’s son, daughter, brother or sister.

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We probably won’t be able to stop organ trade. But Why?

Is this what we call world’s best family value?

At least shouldn’t we stop a 19 yearol poor selling kidney to a 80 year old rich? Shouldn’t we set up an age barrier?

At least shouldn’t we warrant life long treatment expenses of seller by the buyers family? Shouldn’t there be a legal umbrella?

Who, we will address our concern to?

Anyway, who deals with organ trading in Bangladesh? Is it the ministry of commerce? Or the ministry of health?