Sunday, January 12, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Kidney racket: 2 doctors arrested
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, January 11
The Special Investigating Team (SIT), headed by Mr A.A. Saddique, ADGP-cum-OSD (Law and Order) today arrested Dr O.P. Mahajan, Principal, Government Medical College, Amritsar, and Chairman of the Authorisation Committee that cleared the kidney transplant cases, and Dr P.K. Sarin, transplant surgeon of Kakkar Hospital, the only centre in the city authorised to conduct kidney transplant operations.

Dr P. K. Sareen
Dr P. K. Sareen who was arrested in Amritsar on Saturday.
Photo Rajiv Sharma

Mr S.K. Sharma, IG (Jalandhar zone), told ‘The Tribune’ that more than Rs 100 crore was involved in the illegal kidney trade which has been thriving unchecked since the enactment of the transplantation of Human Organs Act in 1994. Amritsar topped the list of kidney transplants in the state.

Mr Sharma said of the 2,384 operations, as many as 1,922 kidneys were transplanted in Kakkar Hospital alone. The next was DMC, Ludhiana, with 458 cases and four cases were transplanted in Patiala.

However, no operation was done at the behest of Authorisation Committee of Faridkot.

The kidney transplant racket was busted by Mr Kanwar Vijay Partap Singh when he was posted as ASP-under-training about four years ago.

With a view to allegedly hush up the case, he was transferred after a few days of unearthing of the illegal trade. However, after his appointment as SP (City) last year, he picked up the threads of his earlier catch and arrested 14 persons, including middlemen, donors and an advocate, Mr Rajan Puri.

Mr Sharma said there was a huge difference between the cost incurred on a kidney transplant and the money charged by the doctors. While a patient had to cough out about Rs 5 lakh for the operation, the cost was only around Rs 1 lakh. The difference of Rs 4 lakh was shared by the members of the authorisation committee, surgeons, middlemen, advocates and those providing political patronage.

About the involvement of senior officials in the nexus, Mr Sharma said the SIT would examine the issue when concrete proof came to light.

However, the persons not related to the beneficiary, who were dubbed as donors got only a meagre amount for giving their kidneys. Mr Sharma said it is criminal to make a person agree to donate his organ to their recipients not related to him. He said that it was shocking that nobody bothered to go into the plight of the poor donor.

Poor innocent donors are allegedly lured to donate kidneys on the promise of a handsome amount of money, which is never paid to them. They are left to fend for themselves after the kidney is taken out. Some donors even died after the operation and their bodies were cremated as unclaimed in the city’s cremation grounds.

Mr Sharma said the SIT was scrutinising each and every file pertaining to kidney transplants in the state. Nobody would be spared if found involved in the multi-crore-rupee kidney racket.

Dr Sareen and his associates are also under the income tax scanner as sleuths had raided their offices and residences in 1997 and unearthed huge unaccounted for assets. The SIT has collected the details of their income and assets of the past five to seven years from the Income Tax Department.

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