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26 Jan 2008 07:13
Police arrested five people, including a doctor, in the suburbs of Delhi early on Saturday morning for allegedly removing kidneys from young men without their permission and selling them to wealthy patients.
The illegal organ transplant trade was being run from a private hospital in Gurgaon, just outside Delhi. News reports claimed that at least 500 kidneys had been illegally transplanted.
Gurgaon’s police commissioner, Mahender Lal, said a doctor, identified only as Upendra, ran the clinic from a private house.
“We found three victims at the hospital whose kidneys had been removed by doctors,” Lal said.
“The racket had been going on for six to seven years.
The victims used to be brought here with the lure of giving them jobs but their kidneys used to be removed.
The victims all appeared to be poor labourers from the villages near Delhi. They were lured to the private clinic with the job offers but told that instead they were wanted for their kidneys, for which they would be paid a fee. Those that refused apparently were held against their will before being drugged and operated upon.
It is understood that four people from Greece and another couple of Indian descent from Britain were detained by the police. All of them are suspected are attempting to buy kidneys at the clinic.
The kidneys were being sold for more than one million rupees. Although doctors say people can lead a normal life with a single kidney, it is an area fraught with medical complications.
The Indian government introduced a law to ban the trade in human organs more than a decade ago. However many critics say that the move simply drove the practice underground.
Last year, up to 150 survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, mainly women around the southern coastal city of Chennai, in Tamil Nadu, sold their organs for 50 000 rupees.
Driving the trade are desperate, wealthy patients and a series of shadowy “intermediaries” out to profit from the illegal business. Five years ago the BBC found that Indian women were selling their organs to people in Singapore. The donors received Â£400 for their organs while the middle men pocketed Â£20 000.
No one knows exactly how big the business of organ selling is. Non-governmental organisations estimate that 2 000 sales of kidneys alone are taking place in India every year. - Guardian Newspapers Limited 2008
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