International organ racket booms, donor gets Rs 3.5 lakh per kidney, recipient pays Rs 20 to 22 lakh

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Barely over a month after an illegal Kidney transplant racket was unearthed in Kerala wherein 20 youths from Bengaluru and Hyderabad were taken to Iran for organ harvesting, another major international kidney gang operating in India and Bangladesh was exposed by Delhi police, with arrest of seven people including four Bangladesh nationals. Both the kidney donor and recipient were Bangladesh nationals and the transplant was done illegally in hospitals in Noida and Delhi. The accused used to pay around Rs 3.5 lakh to the donor while actually extorted Rs 20 to Rs 22 lakh from the recipient. The massive illegal kidney transplant racket is said to have been operational for more than three years.

As per Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Amit Goyal, on a tip-off received on June 16 about an organized gang operating an kidney transplant racket in Delhi and surrounding areas, cops arrested four including Bangladesh nationals Russell, Rokon and Suman Mian besides Tripura resident Ritesh Pal. On their information, three recipients and three donors were also identified and arrested post lodging of a case by crime branch.

Modus Operandi

During interrogation, accused revealed that the gang members used to target patients suffering from kidney ailments by visiting dialysis centers in Bangladesh. They also used to find kidney donors in Bangladesh. The donor was brought to India and then his passport was confiscated and later forced to donate his or her kidney. After this, the accused Russell and Ifti, through their associates Mohammad Suman Mian, Mohammad Rokon alias Rahul Sarkar and Ritesh Pal, used to prepare fake documents to show relationship between the recipients/donors. On the basis of fake documents, they used to get initial medical tests done from the hospitals. After this, they used to get kidney transplant done in hospitals of Delhi and Noida.

During investigation it was also detected that one Dr D Vijaya Rajkumari’s personal assistant Vikram Singh used to assist in preparing patient files and played a vital role in preparing patient and donor affidavits. Vikram Singh used to charge Rs. 20,000 per patient from the accused. Russel also named Mohammed Shariq as one of his associates, who helped in arranging appointments of patients from Dr D Vijaya Rajkumari and get pathological tests done. Shariq used to charge Rs 5000 to Rs 60,000 per patient. Two accused persons Vikram Singh and Mohammed Shariq had been arrested earlier.

Dr D Vijaya Kumari, allegedly knew everything, performed transplants

The accused trio Russel Ahmed, Vikram Singh and Shariq revealed further opened up during interrogation that Dr Vijaya Rajkumari was fully aware the illegal nexus and was accordingly arrested.

Arrested Kingpin

Kingpin of the racket Russell, a Bangladesh national, had arrived in India in 2019 and donated his kidney to another Bangladesh national. Post this, he started the illegal Kidney trade racket, established contacts between potential kidney donors and kidney recipients from Bangladesh besides roped in other requisite support including the transplant surgeon.

Donor provider

The donors were provided by one Ifti, living in Bangladesh against a per transplant commission of 20 to 25 percent, post transplant operation.

Pathological testing support

Accused Mohammad Suman, also a resident of Bangladesh arrived in India this year and helped in conduct of pathological examination of kidney patients for a payment of Rs 20,000 for every donor and recipient each.

Fake documentation

Mohammad Rokon alias Rahul Sarkar alias Bijay Mandal, a resident of Bangladesh, allegedly helped prepare fake documents of donors and recipients for a cut of Rs 30,000 for each of the donor as well as the recipient. He is said to have donated his kidney to a Bangladesh national earlier in 2019.

Illegal organ trade in India poses challenge for probe agencies

India was one of the largest kidney transplant centers in the world before 1994 largely owing to low costs and high availability of organs, which attracted business from around the globe.
The organ trade also known as the ‘blood market’ or ‘red market’ is illegal in India against which in 1994, India passed the Transplantation of Human Organs Act (THOA), which banned commercial business in organs and promoted posthumous donation of organs.
However despite the ban, illegal organ trade has continued to boom, with low costs and high availability of organs in India attracting business from different countries.
Despite THOA barring strangers from donating to one another, unless they could prove a genetic link or marriage, people continue to evade the legal restrictions.
To hoodwink legal restrictions, in many cases, reports of donor marrying the recipient to circumvent THOA’s prohibition have also surfaced besides the donor may not be Indian or even speak the same language as the recipient.

Driving force behind illegal organ trade

The illegal organ trade is driven by poverty, corruption, and insufficiencies in legislation and enforcement. Data from the World Health Organization indicated that donors in the illegal organ trade were predominantly impoverished people in developing nations.
In one of the study of organ donors in India, 71% of all donors fell below the poverty line besides it was also found that paying off debt was a common reason behind donating organs.

Maximum punishment for illegal organ trade

– Imprisonment for up to 10 years
– Fine of up to Rs 1 crore (10 million)
– Removal of organs sans authority invites action under Transplantation of Human Organ Act, 1994 .
– Exploitation of mentally challenged, mentally retarded, and mentally ill individuals is strictly prohibited.
– Removal of human organs or tissues without authority is strictly prohibited.

Illegal organ rackets busted in India from 2000 onwards

• 2008: The Gurgaon kidney scandal came to light, in which police arrested several people for running a kidney transplant racket in Gurgaon. Victims comprised of mostly poor people from Uttar Pradesh while recipients hailed from United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Greece.

• 2008: Police teams from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh raided a residential building and a guest house owned by one Amit Kumar, the man accused of the scandal. The donors were lured with offerings of about Rs 30,000 for kidney ‘donation’. The scandal at a local clinic had been going on for six to seven years.

• 2013: A CBI special court convicted five accused, including one Dr Upender Dublesh and Dr Amit Kumar, who was termed a ‘quack’ in no uncertain terms by the court, got seven-year rigorous imprisonment (RI) besides a fine of over Rs 60 lakh each.

• April 5, 2024: A guesthouse raided in Jaipur, Rajasthan unearthed be an organ transplant racket involving Bangladesh nationals , both donors and recipients, brought to Indian hospitals.

• June 1, 2024: The kingpin of a Hyderabad-based illegal organ trade racket was arrested by the special investigation team (SIT) of the Ernakulam Rural police from his hideout in Hyderabad. The accused, Ballamkonda Ram Prasad, alias Prasad, 41, of Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, was nabbed from a hotel in Hyderabad and brought to Kochi.

• May 21, 2024: Police exposed an international organ trafficking racket wherein several youths from Hyderabad and Bengaluru were trafficked to Iran for kidney transplantation. The arrested, one Sabith Nasar of Thrissur, Kerala reportedly confessed that he had escorted 20 people from India to Iran for organ harvesting.

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