‘Cash-for-kidney’ scam: Health Ministry orders probe against Apollo Hospitals

The Indraprastha Apollo Hospital was allegedly “embroiled in a ‘cash for kidney’ racket in which impoverished people from Myanmar are being enticed to sell their organs for profit”

December 05, 2023 07:27 pm | Updated December 08, 2023 10:28 am IST - NEW DELHI

Patients and their attendants are seen inside Apollo hospital in New Delhi, India.

Patients and their attendants are seen inside Apollo hospital in New Delhi, India. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The Health Ministry’s National Organ and Tissue Transplantation Organisation (NOTTO) has initiated an inquiry into allegations of cash-for-kidney scam against Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, said sources in the Ministry on Tuesday adding that the State Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (SOTTO) will start looking into the matter immediately.

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The inquiry has been ordered following reports by UK-based newspaper The Telegraphthat alleged that this private hospital group has been involved in a racket where people from Myanmar are being enticed to sell their organs for profit.

The report notes that this multi-billion dollar company with facilities across Asia, boasts that it conducts more than 1,200 transplants a year, with wealthy patients arriving for operations from all over the world, including the UK. It adds that “young villagers from Myanmar are being flown to Apollo’s prestigious Delhi hospital and paid to donate their kidneys to rich Burmese patients”.

Meanwhile, the Indraprastha Medical Corporation Ltd (IMCL), in its statement on the report, said that the allegations made in the recent international media against IMCL are absolutely false, ill-informed, and misleading.

“All the facts were shared in detail with the concerned journalist,” the official statement said.

It added that to be clear IMCL complies with every legal and ethical requirement for the transplant procedures including all guidelines laid down by the government as well as our own extensive internal processes that exceed compliance requirements.

Additionally, it noted that IMCL requires every donor to provide Form 21 notarised by the appropriate Ministry in their country.

“This form is a certification from the foreign government that the donor and recipient are indeed related. The government appointed transplant authorisation committee at IMCL reviews documents for each case including this certification and interviews the donor and the recipient. It further re-validates the documents with the concerned embassy of the country. The patients and donors undergo several medical tests, including genetic testing. These and many more steps far exceed any compliance requirements for a transplant procedure and ensure that donor and recipient are indeed related as per applicable laws. IMCL remains committed to the highest standards of ethics and to delivering on our mission to bring the best healthcare to all,” it said.

Delhi-based Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals is a multi-specialty tertiary acute care hospital with more than 710 beds. Recently, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in an effort to provide better and more equitable access to organs and also to promote cadaver donations modified National Organ Transplantation Guidelines and allowed those above 65 years of age to receive an organ for transplantation from deceased donors. It also removed the domicile requirement to register as an organ recipient in a particular State under a ‘One Nation, One Policy’ move.

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