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  • Kidney ‘donors’ offered special kidney-sale-cum-tourism packages to Andhra Pradesh

    The kidney-sale racket has been thriving in Andhra Pradesh for a number of years, according to the state police, with leading hospitals involved. Police sources say nearly 400 kidney transplants have been conducted at various hospitals during the first nine months of 2003; of these, nearly 70% were illegal with hospitals using brokers to reach out to needy ‘donors’ to obtain the organs.

    The illegal trade in organs, which hitherto was known to thrive in neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Kerala, apparently involves mainly people from the east and northeast of the country.

    Over the past five years, police in the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh have been investigating the involvement of a number of people and organisations involved in the racket. They say around 400 kidney transplants were carried out in 2001-2002 at hospitals in Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Rajahmundry. The number jumped to 635 the following year.

    As many as 256 transplants -- 25 of which failed -- were conducted in hospitals at Hyderabad, Rajahmundry and Visakhapatnam during Dussehra alone. “The hospitals have done roaring business in the Dussehra season, with most of the visitors from Calcutta and other Bengal towns bringing donors as part of a tourism package to Andhra towns,” police sources say.

    The Andhra chapter of the Indian Medical Association reveals that refugees from eastern India account for 40% of kidney transplants in the state.

    People from east and northeast India, and occasionally refugees from Bangladesh who end up in the state’s coastal towns of Vijayawada, Rajahmundry, Kakinada and Visakhapatnam in search of a better livelihood, prove easy prey for greedy brokers. They are roped in on special kidney-sale-cum-tourism packages. Donors tap businessmen too, while hospitals welcome such ‘patients’ as they help them obtain kidneys cheaply.

    Andhra Pradesh, which is emerging as a corporate medicare hub in India, has 28 super-specialised hospitals in the coastal districts and Hyderabad. “There are certain corporate hospitals in Hyderabad where Bengalis get a special package -- accommodation with transport and Bengali food is thrown in by the agents,” says a senior police official.

    The police says organ transplants need to be cleared by a special state committee set up to implement the Human Organs Transplant Act, 1994. Despite this, nearly 70% of transplants are not reported to the committee by corporate hospitals. Forged documents are produced to show that people are donating organs to their relatives. The racket comes to light only when a patient dies, or there is disagreement over the terms of transaction.

    “A waiting list at a prominent corporate hospital in Rajahmundry comprised nearly 270 kidney patients,” says the police. They add that other hospitals in Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam have a combined waiting list of nearly 900 patients. A Hyderabad-based relative of one patient says hospitals offer patients organs within four months of registering with them.

    In response to an outcry following these revelations the Andhra Pradesh government has said that, “hospitals and doctors too will be held responsible in case illegal donors are involved in transplants”. The police hopes this directive will help stem the flow of illegal donors.

    Source: http://infochangeindia.org


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