Free Press Journal

Illegal kidney racket, the ugly side of healthcare



New Delhi: Organ transplant trafficking is one of the fastest, but least reported crimes in India as well as in other countries around the world. It has often been described as a deep-rooted menace affecting the medical profession, both domestically and globally, reports ANI.

Backed by unscrupulous personnel linked to the medical profession, including touts and doctors, it is estimated that across the globe, roughly 100,000 illegal kidney transplants alone take place. So entrenched is the organ transplantation process, that at times well known hospitals and doctors don’t even know that the critical replacement organ they are inserting in a patient is illegal.

Take for instance the kidney racket in India, which records show has raised its ugly head from time to time. There are past examples of this racket being run by a nexus of middlemen (touts), doctors and lawyers etc, who harvest kidneys from poor people in dire need of money for paltry sums and then sell them to recipients at substantially higher prices.

The genesis of the kidney racket stems from a huge mismatch between the demand and supply for kidneys in the country and a loophole in the law, which is often misused by these scamsters. They seem to have mastered the art of using loopholes in the system to smoothly push through necessary documentation and clearances, that at times, even doctors and hospitals don’t suspect anything and become victims of the racket.

It is a finely tuned modus operandi, where middle men arrange kidneys from the poor; get false affidavits made and provide the required organ to the recipient. Sometimes, the donor may even be positioned as a relative as per documentation. Doctors, hospitals and even screening committees are beguiled by such foolproof paperwork, that clearances are often obtained in a jiffy and the scamsters make off with a neat sum of money.

Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), Tamil Nadu capital Chennai and the Union Territory of Chandigarh have emerged as prime centres for transit and organ transplant trafficking. Senior nephrologists, speaking on condition of anonymity, said organ transplant trafficking across several states cannot take place without the knowledge of the management at hospitals.

In the year 2003, a kidney racket was busted in Amritsar, where they were sold anywhere between Rs.5 to Rs.8 lakhs. In 2004, a Bombay Hospital-based kidney racket was busted and the kingpin along with his accomplices was arrested. After the arrests, it was learnt that the kingpin had deceived the hospital authorities by producing forged documents for conducting the transplants.

In the past one decade, Chennai, has emerged as the breeding ground for a thriving organ racket whose primary targets have always been the poor. The arrest of a Chennai-based medical representative in 2007 by Mumbai police for allegedly running an inter-state kidney racket revealed the enormous size of the illegal organ market that had grown into a syndicate with international links.