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Monday 21st May 2018

India kidney thefts

31st January 2008

Police in India have unearthed a kidney-theft ring of unprecedented scale, according to The New York Times.

Four doctors, five nurses, 20 paramedics, three private hospitals, 10 pathology clinics, and five diagnostic centers were allegedly involved in 400-500 illicit kidney transplants over the last nine years, the newspaper quoted Mohinder Lal, the police officer in charge of the investigation, as saying.

A team of criminals he called kidney scouts usually roamed labour markets in Delhi and cities in Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s poorest states, searching for potential donors, Mr Lal said. Some prospects were asked outright if they wanted to sell a kidney and offered US$1,000 to $2,500.

At the center of the alleged organ theft is a doctor with many names but who has been known most recently as Amit Kumar. He was arrested in 1994 on suspicion of running a kidney transplant racket in Mumbai, but jumped bail, changed his name and set up work again from several clinics hidden in residential apartments in Gurgaon, an affluent city outside the capital, Delhi. Police raided one of his clinics in 2000 but he somehow continued working. Officials failed to investigate further even after at least one television investigation exposed his work.

Although several kidney rings have been exposed in India in recent years, the police said the scale of this operation was unprecedented.

Investigators were alerted to the ring last week by a donor who said the operation had ruined his health. Apparently tipped off to the raid, Dr Kumar escaped arrest. Only one of the four main doctors implicated has been detained. The officials suspect that several private hospitals in Delhi and its suburbs were quietly complicit in Dr Kumar’s work and treated patients recovering from kidney transplants.

Naseem Mohammed was the last of about 500 Indians whose kidneys were removed by a team of doctors running an illegal transplant operation, supplying kidneys to rich Indians and foreigners, police officials said. A few hours after his operation last Thursday, the police raided the clinic and moved him to a government hospital.

Mr Mohammed, 25, said he had no idea that it was possible to sell a kidney. He had been picking up odd jobs in Delhi and sending money to his family in Gujarat, he said. Two weeks ago, he was approached by a bearded man as he waited at the early-morning labour market by the Old Delhi train station, he said. The man offered him a deal that sounded too good to be true: one and a half months’ work painting, for a little less than $4 a day, with free food and lodging.

Mr Mohammed said he was driven four or five hours, to a secluded bungalow, where he was placed in a room with four other young men, under the watch of two armed guards. “When I asked why I had been locked inside, the guards slapped me and said they would shoot me if I asked any more questions,? Mr Mohammed said, lying in a hospital bed, wrapped in an orange blanket, clenching his teeth and shutting his eyes in pain. He said the men were given food to cook and periodically nurses would take blood samples. “They told us not to speak to each other or we would pay with our lives,? he said. “I was the last one to be taken.?


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