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In Chennai, the hearts beat for foreigners

International patients get priority in cadaver transplants, bypassing long list of Indians

An organ transplant racket has surfaced in Tamil Nadu. Officials of the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare have found that hearts harvested from brain-dead patients were given to foreign nationals, bypassing Indian patients on the waiting list.

In 2017, foreigners got about 25% of all heart transplants in the State and 33% of lung transplants.

Based on a specific input that at least three hearts retrieved from brain-dead patients were given to international patients in recent months in Chennai, the Directorate General of Health Services convened an urgent meeting in New Delhi recently and framed strict guidelines for allocation of organs to foreigners.

 

“It is difficult to digest that Indian hearts are not matching with our own Indian patients but matching with foreigners. How’s it possible... It seems that Indian money is not matching with foreigners’ money. Really sorry to write that we are so greedy (that) we don’t bother to help poor Indian patients and (are) trying to manipulate (the waiting list) for foreigners,” Prof. Vimal Bhandari, Director, National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO), said in a message on a WhatsApp group set up for the purpose of organ allocation.

The group comprises officials of the Tamil Nadu Transplant Authority and representatives of all government hospitals and major private hospitals (which are licensed for organ transplantation).

 

NOTTO, which functions under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, is an all-India apex body for coordination and networking for procurement and distribution of organs/tissues and transplantation.

Prof. Bhandari made the comment after learning that hearts and lungs harvested from brain-dead patients were given to foreign nationals admitted to corporate hospitals. Speaking to The Hindu, he said he came to know of something “fishy” in the way hearts were allocated to foreigners in Chennai. The protocol is that an organ should first be offered to an Indian. If no Indian is available, an NRI should be considered. The question of an international patient arises only when both decline an organ offer.

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Printable version | Jul 4, 2020 2:58:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/organ-transplant-racket-surfaces-in-tamil-nadu/article24139506.ece

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