The Apollo kidney transplant scam in New Delhi unfolds crucial loopholes in India’s healthcare policies yet again and also the need for organ donation laws to be revised, India struggles to meet the demand of organ transplant encouraging unscrupulous organ peddling rackets.
Last week, five persons convicted of illegal kidney transplant were arrested from South East Delhi. Two of them have straight connection with Apollo Hospitals, one of the most prominent multi-specialty hospitals in the Indian capital. The other three are suspects from a gang that runs a countrywide kidney racket alluring the poor with random ransom cash offers.
Loopholes in organ transplant laws
In the Apollo kidney transplant scam, two assistants of the transplant surgeon in the hospital are alleged with the charge of carrying out fake documentations for forced or allured donors. While doctors shrugged off their responsibilities stating that they are not investigating bodies who would verify donor’s identity.
Although an elaborate documentation apart from the usual compatibility test and psychiatric evaluation is made mandatory before an organ transplant, reputed medical institutions such as Apollo is making headlines harbouring kidney transplant rackets. The gang in this case is reportedly well versed with the organ donation documentation and they used to prepare false papers to prove relationships between the donor and the recipient. This is an alarming situation, not only because there is a continuous breach of organ donation law, but also because India is fast becoming a market place where financially challenged people are duped to donate their organs.
Who are these convicts?
The organ transplant scam in New Delhi depicts a very sad picture of some part of the society. For patients who cannot afford an international organ transplant these gangs come as a redeemer. They target people with a testing financial condition and almost force them to trade their organs for some random fortune. According to the reports from the New Delhi police, one of the offenders, a native of New Jalpaiguri, in West Bengal, has even forced his wife to donate one of her kidneys last month. The other convict, a resident of Kanpur, has himself donated one of his kidneys in 2014. They both were in regular touch with the secretaries of the Apollo surgeons who aided in the smooth functioning of the racket.
Dearth of organs
India is witnessing a huge shortage of kidneys, compared to the increasing number of chronic kidney cases in the country. Patients temporarily undergo dialysis (a medical substitute for dysfunctional kidneys) for a short-term cure. However, when it comes to an inevitable transplant, 5,000 successful cases against 0.2 million patients in a year explains the huge gap in demand and supply in the country.
What seems like a feasible option is that India should start considering the Spanish model of “opt-out” body donation, where organs of all cadavers are automatically donated unless the deceased has voluntarily opted out. This will not only solve the huge demand of organ transplant but will also increase transparency in the system.