Organ trafficking: kidney racket busted, 11 hospitals implicated

From The Hindu

From The Hindu

Bangalore (updated): A kidney racket involving some of the biggest hospitals in the business — Apollo, Manipal, Columbia Asia and Victoria hospital. 25 victims. Two years. And a string of arrests on Dec. 31. (Hindu)

Details are just trickling. According to the Transplantation of Human Organ Act of 1994, hospitals are supposed to publish details about all transplant surgeries (DNA). And yet few hospitals do, rendering the kidney transplants illegal.

It is alleged that over a two year time period, 25 patients were “lured” to donate their kidneys for small sums of money. According to the law, the donors have to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and be informed of risks and benefits. Consent needs to be given by both the donor and recipient. These procedures were not followed with the donors.

It is to be noted that the police have jailed a number of “kidney-agents” but they have not yet gone after the hospitals or the doctors who performed the transplantation.s

The Hindu has a fascinating expose of the organ trade in Bangalore.

It found that many of the donors had not received the promised Rs. 1.5 lakh (150,000) for their kidneys, and most of them had been operated at multi-specialty hospitals in the city (The Hindu).

Organ trafficking has surged in recent years since amendments to the Human Organ Act were enforced in 2011. The amendments allowed donors to give up their kidneys to unrelated recipients if a doctor finds the motive is “affection and attachment” and not money.

Needless to say, such a loose phrasing has allowed the number of kidney transplations to rise. Hospitals that perform more than 25 surgeries a year — including Manipal Hospitals, Columbia Asia and Narayana Hrudayalaya — have their own panels to approve donors.

The kidney recipients were scouted by the kidney-agents at hospitals throughout the city (TOI).

Among the kidney-agents arrested was Mahadevaiah, a notorious kidney kingpin who was jailed in 2007 on similar charges. Obviously, that was little impediment.

The Recipients

The donors were not the only ones caught up in the scam. Recipients of the kidneys often found themselves part of a system they did not realize was illegal (The Hindu).

In one case, A. Sudhakaran, 42, had been awaiting a kidney when he was approached by a pharmacist at the hospital. The pharmacist told Mr. Sudhakaran that he knew “agents” who could secure him a kidney. A kidney-agent soon approached him with two donors. Sudhakaran said he had no idea the arrangement within a prominent hospital (we don’t know which one) could be illegal.

You can read Yudhijit Bhattacharjee’s masterful account of one such kidney kingpin in Discover

UPDATE (Jan 14, 2013): Since Karnataka has not updated the amendments of the Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Bill, the seven accused are likely to get off with little more than a rap on the wrist, reports the Times of India

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