Pims faces ‘can do, cant do’ question over liver transplants
ISLAMABAD, Feb 4: Pakistan Institute of Medical Science’s (Pims) organ transplant centre which has been in limbo since its first liver transplant went wrong in May 2012 is set to resume its work, to the alarm of its medical experts.
“We are as ill prepared today as we were when Pakistan Air Force officer Ataullah Baloch died within 15 days of our transplanting the liver donated by his wife for lack of expertise and quality care at the centre,” a Pims physician in the know of things told Dawn.
A British surgeon was hired to be part of the medical team that conducted the sensitive procedures on the air force officer from Khuzdar, recalled the physician.
“Pims is venturing again into a liver transplant knowing that it is not prepared for it because the federal government is pressing us to do. That’s not fair,” said a Pims administration official.
Pims executive director Prof Riaz Warraich however rubbishes all talk of unpreparedness.
“We are prepared and people will see the first successful liver transplant within few weeks. Four patients have been selected for the transplant,” he told Dawn, asserting that this time he had “a far better team” to conduct the operations.“A team is coming from India under the leadership of Dr Subhash Gupta and, with the anaesthetists and nurses present at our state-of-the-art transplant centre, there should be no worries for any one,” said Prof Warraich.
But he introduced elements of doubts by adding: “We have delayed the transplants scheduled for February 7. Another date will be announced shortly.”
In any case, he assured the liver transplants will take place within this month. “We are all prepared. We have a fully trained team, including liver transplant physicians from the Shifa International and are hopeful of positive results,” said Prof Warraich.
An official of the Pims administration pointed out that the private hospital had sent 20 members of its medical staff for training to India, before starting live donor liver transplant surgeries at its facility.
“Here in Pims we have untrained nurses and paramedics who cannot be expected to handle liver transplant patients,” a physician of Pims interjected.
Though established at a cost of Rs200 million, and functioning since 2011, the Centre for Liver Disease and Organ Transplant at Pims does not have a transplant hepatologist to this day.
A physician said that an experienced hepatologist works closely with the transplant surgeons in the selection and care of liver transplant recipients and donors in post operation care.
Even the Intensive Care Unit of Pims meant for liver transplant has poor arrangements. Since the transplant patients need proper oxygen, a sophisticated air handling system is an essential part of the ICU, said the physician who had discussed the facilities the transplant facility would need with the government.