Apollo Hospitals has denied a media report that claimed its flagship facility in Delhi – Indraprastha Apollo Hospital – is at the center of an international “money-for-kidneys” racket targeting poor people from Myanmar (formerly Burma). to be flown to the city to have their kidneys harvested in exchange for 80-90 lakh rupees (£2,700-3,100) each. The illegally acquired organs are then sold to sick, rich patients from around the world, including the UK.
“To be clear, Indraprastha Medical Corporation Ltd (Indraprastha Hospital) complies with all legal and ethical requirements for transplant procedures, including government guidelines and our extensive internal processes that go beyond compliance requirements,” Apollo Hospitals said.
“The allegations made against IMCL in recent international media (reports) are absolutely false, ill-informed and misleading. All the facts have been shared in detail with the journalist concerned,” said the hospital, which is part of the multi-billion dollar hospital. The Apollo Hospitals group said in a report by news agency PTI.
An IMCL spokesman said each donor must provide documentation from their government confirming a family relationship to the recipient and that a government-appointed committee at the hospital reviewed each case and interviewed each donor and recipient before the transplant was approved.
The spokesperson said IMCL then revalidates each document with the relevant embassy. The donor and recipient then undergo medical tests that would reveal the absence of a genetic relationship.
“These steps go well beyond any compliance requirements for a transplant procedure and ensure that donor and recipient are related,” the spokesperson said, explaining that IMCL is “committed” to ethical standards.
The Union Health Ministry has not yet commented on The Telegraph’s report.
Apollo Hospitals also spoke to The Telegraph and said it was “completely shocked” by the report. It announced it would launch an internal investigation and stressed that “any suggestion of intentional complicity or tacit sanction of illegal activities related to organ transplantation is completely rejected.”
The Telegraph report, published at 9am on Saturday, quotes an “agent” in the alleged illegal trade as saying the steps outlined may not be followed as strictly and consistently as the hospital has stated. “The hospital asks the official questions… and on this site they tell the official lies,” she had claimed.
The “agent” told The Telegraph: “It’s a big deal…” and that those involved are “working together to get around obstacles between the two governments” as it is illegal in India and Myanmar to pay for organs or to receive these from strangers without the permission of the authorities.
According to The Telegraph, the racket involves extensive forgeries – from “family photos” suggesting a relationship between donor and recipient, to government documents and the fact that the money paid to the donor was a “thank you” payment is not considered for “buying” a kidney.
This is not the first time that allegations of illegal organ trafficking have been made against Apollo Hospitals.
In 2016, Delhi Police questioned two senior doctors of Indraprastha Hospital in connection with the kidney trafficking scam. This came after the arrest of an associate of a senior nephrologist and after one T. Rajkumar Rao, the alleged mastermind of the scam, was also taken into custody.
READ | Kidney racket broken at Apollo Hospital in Delhi, 5 people arrested
Apollo Hospitals said at the time that it was “the victim of a well-orchestrated operation carried out by a few individuals with malicious intent (and who intentionally committed forgery and fraud”). “The hospital has the highest respect for the law … and urges the police to bring their investigation to a logical conclusion.”
With input from agencies
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