Indian police arrest recipient of kidney via illegal organ racket

Indian police escort suspected leader of an illegal organ donation racket T Rajkumar Rao (centre) to the Barasat Court, on June 8, 2016.
Indian police escort suspected leader of an illegal organ donation racket T Rajkumar Rao (centre) to the Barasat Court, on June 8, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Indian police said on Friday (June 24) they had arrested a man for receiving a kidney through an illegal organ donation racket run out of one of the country's top hospitals.

Ashutosh Singh, 22, is alleged to have bought the kidney through a criminal gang that forged documents to facilitate the transplant at an upscale Apollo Hospital in New Delhi.

He is accused of paying 2.5 million rupees (S$50,000) to the gang, which bought the organs from poor people for just 300,000 rupees and sold them on to those in need.

"He was arrested on Thursday and we are questioning him," said Mr M.S. Randhawa, south Delhi's deputy commissioner of police.

Organs can only be donated by close relatives or by non-relatives approved by a special committee in India and buying and selling them is illegal.

But millions of Indians suffer from kidney disease, and a chronic shortage of organs for transplant has fuelled a black market.

Ms Lalitha Raghuram, country director of India's largest organ donation network the Mohan Foundation, said the authorities should be focusing on boosting donations.

"As an individual I feel sorry for such people because they do it in desperation. But we cannot support and engage in sale and purchase of human organs," she told AFP.

"The only solution is to create awareness and improve our organ donation record."

The latest racket was uncovered earlier this month after police arrested 12 people including several hospital employees, donors and agents from across the country.

Police also arrested the gang leader T Rajkumar, who claimed to have facilitated dozens of transplants in the past several years.

Three more recipients have been identified but have absconded, police said.