No deal, transplant tourist told


A DYING Australian man says he has been left without hope after a Pakistani hospital pulled out of an agreement to give him a new kidney, claiming it no longer helps foreigners get organs.

Ibrahim El-Sheikh, from Canberra, had been hoping to travel to the Aadil Hospital, in Lahore, to pay $27,000 for a kidney, but got an email late on Thursday saying there had been a misunderstanding.

The chief executive officer of the hospital, Abdul Waheed Sheikh, told the Herald Pakistan had not brokered deals between foreigners and middlemen selling kidneys since bans were introduced eight months ago and only people who could supply their own donor were being accepted.

But Mr El-Sheikh’s sister, Mary Kiefer, said she was stunned at the news. “We have official paperwork from them. I have all the emails. Nothing has ever been said about us supplying a donor. Letters from them only arrived a few weeks ago so obviously they are still doing transplants. They even detailed how someone would meet my brother at the airport,” she said.

Mr El-Sheikh, 43, was bitterly disappointed at the news, saying he “knew of four Australians who had kidney transplants at the Aadil Hospital in the past six months”, while his doctor, Gavin Carney, said he sighted, and signed, the hospital’s forms only days ago, and “it was as clear as daylight that [the hospital] was supplying the kidney”.

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, told a radio station on Friday he wanted senior health officials to stop “stuffing around” with ways to alleviate the organ donor shortage and expected a solution to the problem within months.

“I pulled together the head of the Health Department and the chief medical officer and myself just the other day … to audit where everything’s up to both in terms of the opt-out system, and other complementary or alternative proposals,” he said. “We’re aiming to come up with a solution which will … hopefully be acceptable to all parties by mid-year, and mid-year’s not far away.”

A woman from Emu Plains, who did not want to be named, has offered to donate a kidney to Mr El-Sheikh, but must first pass strict medical and psychological tests to determine compatibility.

“I haven’t been able to get this man out of my head,” she said. “I keep seeing his face and hearing him begging for life and I know I must help. I don’t want any money, I don’t even want anyone to know who I am. I just want other people to put their hands up to help people, too.”