Indraprastha Apollo Hospital ‘Cash-For-Kidney’ Scam: Health Ministry Orders Probe

The National Organ and Tissue Transplantation Organisation (NOTTO) under the Union Health Ministry ordered an inquiry into the alleged scam.

Doctors strike in Rajasthan

Union Health Ministry on Tuesday ordered a probe into allegations of a 'cash-for-kidney' scam against the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.

The news agency PTI quoting sources said the ministry has ordered into the alleged scam.

The National Organ and Tissue Transplantation Organisation (NOTTO) under the Union Health Ministry ordered an inquiry, the report said. 

The move comes just two days after UK-based The Telegraph published a report on December 3, claiming Apollo was "embroiled in a 'cash for kidney' racket in which impoverished people from Myanmar are being enticed to sell their organs for profit".

Earlier, the Apollo Hospital rejected the report, saying it was "false, ill-informed, and misleading". Apollo, which has a presence across Asia, said it follows every legal and ethical requirement for kidney transplants, which also includes all the guidelines laid down by the government.

Despite this, shares of Apollo Hospitals slipped by Rs 34.55 to settle at Rs 5,588 on Tuesday.  

In a report published on December 3, the UK Daily said desperate young villagers from Myanmar were being flown to Apollo's prestigious Delhi hospital and paid to donate their kidneys to rich Burmese patients. According to the report, one of the racket's agents told an undercover Telegraph reporter: "It's big business."

In India and Myanmar, paying for organ transplants is illegal and a patient cannot receive an organ donation from a stranger in normal circumstances. However, the report claimed that those involved in the racket "work together to get around the obstacles between the two governments. The UK daily said that the alleged scam involved elaborate forging of identity documents and staging of 'family' photographs to present donors as the relatives of would-be patients.

However, a spokesperson from the hospital said that each foreign donor is required to provide a certification from their respective foreign governments that the donor and recipient are indeed related before undertaking a transplant. "To be clear, IMCL (Indraprastha Medical Corporation Limited) complies with every legal and ethical requirement for the transplant procedures including all guidelines laid down by the government," the spokesperson was quoted as saying by PTI.

Explaining the hospital's process for a kidney transplant, the spokesperson said the hospital requires every donor to provide Form 21 notarised by the appropriate ministry in their country. This form, the spokesperson added, 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 and interviews the donor and the recipient, the hospital said.

The spokesperson further said the hospital re-validates the documents with the concerned embassy of the country. The patients and donors undergo several medical tests, including genetic testing.

According to the report, patients and agents named Dr Sandeep Guleria, one of the country's leading surgeons, as the surgeon who conducted the transplants. Guleria, who trained in the UK, was given the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian award, in 2019. He, however, denied any knowledge of the illegal activities, the report said, adding that the doctor said linking him to a transnational organ transplant racket was "offensive and laughable".

Meanwhile, the Delhi government's health secretary SB Deepak Kumar has reportedly said that they would order a probe into the allegations.

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