Kidney racket in India well organised, hard to bust

The illegal kidney transplant racket remains rampant across India, and with several layers of touts and doctors and margins of Rs20 lakh per case, agencies are finding it difficult to crackdown on these.

Non-profit organisations estimate that donors are paid as little as Rs40,000 while the receiver pays over Rs20 lakh for the same kidney, and that is why organ transplant trafficking is one of the fastest and least reported crimes in India, notes The Hindustan Times.

Last month, police busted a kidney racket which lured poor people from several states to sell their kidneys, and arrested several people, including the personal secretaries of a neurologist of Apollo Hospital, in this connection.

Non-government organisations working in the field claim many donors don't even know they have undergone kidney transplants and that awareness at the village level could help solve the problem.

''Many donors don't even know where to complain. In far flung villages in West Bengal and Bihar, most of the villagers live with one kidney and operations are performed locally. It is a thriving market, with touts preying on poor,'' said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini NGO that works in rural areas.

Investigators claim donors are known as 'Pappu' among touts and the network is so organised that two people involved in the racket often don't know each other.

''We stumbled on the racket when we saw two people fighting. The touts call donors 'Pappu' and many a time it was difficult to reach the next level. They used to target the poor and pay them as little as Rs25,000. It is difficult to bust the organized gang. Complainants are not willing to come forward,'' said Manzil Saini, who was responsible for busting the infamous Gurgaon kidney racket in 2008. She is now Senior Superintendent of Police, Lucknow.

A rough estimate suggests that over 1,00,00 kidney transplants are performed illegally across the world.

''In big hospitals, many times doctors performing the operation do not even know that the receiver has got the kidney illegally. The touts forge documents to show that the donor is a relative and obtain the necessary clearance. Receivers, on the other hand, are ready to pay hefty amounts in order to save their lives. In such a scenario, everyone is a victim apart from the touts, who get commission,'' said Rakesh Senger of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, who feels the racket is far bigger than the number suggests.

A Nepal-based NGO, Forum for Protection of People's Rights (PPR), conducted a study on 36 people who were trafficked for organ transplant and are now living in Nepal. While the main reason for their plight was poverty and lack of education, many were promised a house and huge amounts of money, which they never get.

Of the 36 victims they talked to, 11 were unaware where the transplant happened, but 18 of them said the transplant happened in Chennai, six said it took place in Chandigarh and one person mentioned Delhi.

''In most of these cases, Delhi was the transit point. Because of the good health care system in South India, most victims were taken to Chennai. Post their return, the victims are treated badly by locals and termed as 'kidney seller'. There is obviously a health effect,'' said Satish Sharma of PPR.