Top Indian hospital duped in organ trafficking scam

Suspected members of an organ trafficking gang wearing masks after their arrest in New Delhi. A shortage of organs for transplant fuels a booming black-market trade in body parts in India.
Suspected members of an organ trafficking gang wearing masks after their arrest in New Delhi. A shortage of organs for transplant fuels a booming black-market trade in body parts in India.PHOTO: THE STATESMAN/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Police arrest five gang members, including two hospital workers

NEW DELHI • One of India's top hospitals unwittingly removed the kidneys of organ-trafficking victims believing they were donating them to relatives, a hospital spokesman said yesterday, after police arrested five men over the racket.

A criminal gang, including two workers at the upscale Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, allegedly lured poor people into selling their kidneys for 300,000 rupees (S$6,093) before re-selling the organs for huge profits, police said.

The gang used forged documents that made people think the victims were relatives of needy transplant recipients, fooling staff at the hospital, where two of the suspects worked as assistants to a senior nephrologist.

"It was revealed that the staff of Apollo Hospital were also involved in this racket. The recipients were charged exorbitant sums and a small amount out of it was paid to the donors," police were reported as saying by The Statesman newspaper on Friday.

The victims came from across India, including Tamil Nadu state in the south and West Bengal in the east, to have their kidneys removed.

The victims came from across India, including Tamil Nadu state in the south and West Bengal in the east, to have their kidneys removed.

The gang used contacts in those states to bring the victims to New Delhi. They are checked into hotels while tests are done and paperwork is completed prior to the operations.

The gang used contacts in those states to bring the victims to New Delhi. They are checked into hotels while tests are done and paperwork is completed prior to the operations.

The hospital said it was a victim of the gang too.

"The hospital has been a victim of a well-orchestrated operation to cheat patients and the hospital," an Apollo spokesman said in a statement, adding that the assistants were not on the employee payroll. "We urge the police to take the strictest of action against all those involved."

The spokesman added: "This matter is of grave concern and our teams are extending all support to the police."

Commercial trade in organs is illegal in India and transplant donations to non-relatives must be approved by a special committee.

"We detected five cases of organ sale (by this criminal ring) this year. We have arrested five men and seized fake IDs, CDs, files and documents," a New Delhi police officer said on condition of anonymity.

Police initially raided the hospital on Thursday, making three arrests, he said. The police said they have not ruled out involvement by other hospital employees in the racket.

A chronic shortage of organs available for transplant fuels a booming black-market trade in body parts in India.

Millions of Indians suffer from kidney disease, mostly because of high rates of diabetes, hiking demand for transplants annually.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE STATESMAN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 05, 2016, with the headline 'Top Indian hospital duped in organ trafficking scam'. Print Edition | Subscribe