The Bold Voice of J&K

Unravelling dark story behind kidney racket

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Joginder Singh

The middle-men, who organise this illegal trade in human organs, as well as the doctors and medical staff, who assist them and make the organs available for illicit use in the first place, deserve equal punishment
It is very rare that India has learnt from its past. It has not even drawn lessons or acted upon. Rightly it has been said that there are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns, patterns hidden by patterns and patterns within patterns.
If you watch closely, history does nothing, but repeat itself. What we call turmoil and disorder is just a pattern that we do not recognise. What we call random, is just a pattern that we can’t decipher. What we can’t understand, we call it nonsense. What we can’t read, we call it gibberish. Similar is the case with scams in our country. These days, kidney scams are making headlines in the national capital.
According to one estimate, four to five lakh patients require organ transplants every year. But there have been only 35,000 organ transplants in our country in the past 10 years
On an average, 3,000 people die every year because they are unable to get timely transplants. In our country, 1.5 lakh new patients get end-stage renal failure every year. Only 3,500 undergo kidney transplants. About 6,000 get dialysis, the rest die.
In India, the Transplantation of Human Organ Act came into existence in 1994 which made buying and selling of human organs illegal and cash-for-kidney transactions a criminal offense.
According to this Act, human organ transplant centres need to be registered and regulated by the Government through regular checks. The law also recognises the concept of cadaver-based kidney transplants in which brain-dead persons can donate an organ.
This Act prohibits buying and selling of human organs. Police reports say that the donors were paid between Rs50,000 to Rs1,00,000 for surgeries. Each kidney was later sold for Rs15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh, to the rich, both in Indian and abroad.
The funniest case was reported from Chennai where there have been sale of organs, but no action was taken. “In all the cases, there were problems with documentation. But no action was taken as these hospitals pleaded with the Government and assured that it will not be repeated,” said Director of Medical Services P Nandagopal Samy.
Although several rackets have been busted in Tamil Nadu and many reports, including in leading medical journals like The Lancet, have said that there have been sale of organs, no doctor or hospital has ever been proved guilty.
Licenses of at least 15 hospitals have been withdrawn and suspension notices have been issued by the Directorate Of Medical services, particularly after the State health department unearthed a kidney trade where the survivors of the December 2004 tsunami were donors.
In all such rackets, it is impossible to believe that the top bosses of the institutions were not aware of the operations for kidney removal and re-plantation. I have been to top private and Government hospitals for check-ups and treatment. Unless the documentation for any ailment is done, with the details of the person concerned and money paid, no doctor attend you.
How can kidney surgeries be performed without the competent authority knowing about it? It is for the simple reason that if something goes wrong, it is the primary responsibility of the hospital and the concerned doctor. Actually, it should be of the Government health and medical department. But nobody has been called to explain as to why, they failed to fulfill their duty.
As a layman, I do not understand that the documentations were not there. If this logic were to be accepted as gospel truth and the basis of all actions, then no criminal, or a thief or a dacoit or fraudster, or a misappropriator, will ever be found guilty. No official will defy his political bosses, as his promotion or even his existence in the service depends upon them. So, my guess is that without connivance at the high level, these scams cannot happen.
As it is, punishment under Indian laws, including the one on kidney transplant, is an apology and is miles away from being a deterrent, just short of being an incentive. Before anything else is done, the commission and detection of crime must have a built in deterrence.
Taking out one kidney out of two is like halving the life. I am not a doctor, but the fact remains that two kidneys keep an individual fit and healthy. No study has been done on the longevity of life with one kidney. But common sense will say that there is a grain of truth in my above mentioned observation.

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