Kerala police open probe into organ transplant racket

IG said middlemen working for hospitals had “deceptively induced” persons from needy families.

October 23, 2020 02:09 pm | Updated 02:16 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Crime Branch IG S. Sreejith. File

Crime Branch IG S. Sreejith. File

The State police have stumbled upon an organ transplant racket that supplied kidneys and liver tissue from living donors to affluent patients for sizeable sums of money.

IG, Crime Branch, S. Sreejith, who conducted the preliminary enquiry, has recommended the registration of a First Information Report (FIR) to kickstart a criminal investigation into the crime.

The probe is currently centred around hospitals in Thrissur district and could extend to other regions.

In a letter to the State police chief Loknath Behera, Mr. Sreejith said middlemen working for hospitals had “deceptively induced” persons from needy families to donate kidney or liver tissue to well-heeled patients requiring a transplant.

Many of the donors had no relation to the recipient. They had no connection to the donee.

The police could find no evidence to conclude the donor had any particular attachment, altruistic reason or affection for the patient.

Investigators said they suspected that the donors had received up to ₹ 10 lakh as compensation. However, the middlemen and the suspect hospitals could have netted up to 40 lakhs or more for arranging a live donor.

Mr. Sreejith’s report said that preliminary evidence pointed to the violation of section 19 of the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act (THOTA), 1994. The law outlaws the sale of organs.

Investigators said the middlemen had migrated from organising blood donation for money to deceptively inducing economically disadvantaged people to donate their organs for cash.

Many of the donors could not explain the cash windfall they had received during the COVID-19 pandemic when regular employment was hard to come by.

Another official said agents working in tandem with unethical medical professionals had sought to exploit the gap between demand and supply of organs for transplants. They had found the pandemic conducive to their illegal but lucrative trade.

The Crime Branch report said that some “public servants” had “connived and abetted” the crime.

An official said government doctors could also be involved in the racket. He said the instances detected so far was just the tip of the ice-berg. The scale of the racket could be more extensive.

Deputy Inspector General of Police, Thrissur, S. Surendran will head the investigation team. Mr. Behera and Mr. Sreejith will supervise the probe.

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