In January 2018, Mudvat Venkateswarlu Naik, a tribal farmer from a backward village called Durgi in Macherla mandal, was charged by the Guntur Rural Police for faking his Aadhaar ID card in a bid to donate his kidney to Chigurupati Siva Nageswara Rao, a patient from Guntur.
Police arrested Naik, who had allegedly morphed his picture on the Aadhaar card of Rapuri Ravi Chowdary and claimed to be a blood relative of the recipient. The incident brought back memories of the distress sale of kidneys, which had haunted Palnadu in 2000. During 2000-2002, as many as 26 farmers had reportedly sold their kidneys to get out of a debt trap.
Responding to the incident, the then AP Government awarded compensation to the tune of ₹5 lakh to each farmer’s family. The issue of the kidney sale was also taken up by the National Human Rights Commission.
However, in the latest episode which surfaced in January 2018, the kidney transplantation itself was not done as the accused was arrested during police verification of his Aadhaar card, a mandatory exercise done before kidney transplantation surgery.
While the process for cadaver transplantation is laid out through the Jeevandan scheme, the process for live organ transplantation is tough.
Under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, one has to apply for an organ transplant to the authorisation committee at selected teaching government hospitals. The committee is headed by Superintendent, Government General Hospital, and comprises a nephrologist, urologist and transplant surgeon. The donor should be a close blood relative of the recipient and should furnish certificates of residence and family structure given by the revenue department and a police verification certificate. In case where the donor happens to be unrelated to the family, both the donor and the recipient have to furnish self-affidavits.
Touts mint money
It is to avoid this cumbersome and time-taking process of furnishing documents that hospitals have been accused of forming a nexus with touts to furnish false documents making unrelated kidney donors look like close blood relatives of the recipient. Police suspect that a lot of money changes hands in getting this risky task accomplished.
Police who registered cases against the accused, a car driver who helped in getting the residence certificate from the MRO, also questioned a doctor from a corporate hospital in Guntur. Since the kidney transplantation was not done, the police let off the doctor.
"We have been following all the established procedures for kidney transplantation and we are in no way connected with the donor," said Dr. Chinta Ramakrishna, a nephrologist at Vedanta Hospitals.
Hard cases to crack
Police also said that in the absence of any credible information on middlemen, it is difficult to crack such cases.
"We don’t think that local hospitals in Guntur would take the risk of hoodwinking the system but we fear that the donors from poor families might be lured by touts outside the State," said a senior police officer who handled the case in January 2018.