Black market in kidneys

Black market in kidneys
Highlights

Black market in kidneys. If one visits the Thanda Basti in Medak, the memories of kidney racket are fresh. In 2012, Yadgiri, a rickshaw puller, was offered Rs 5 lakh for one of his kidneys.

If one visits the Thanda Basti in Medak, the memories of kidney racket are fresh. In 2012, Yadgiri, a rickshaw puller, was offered Rs 5 lakh for one of his kidneys. He was given an advance of Rs 1 lakh. After donating the kidney when Yadgiri demanded the rest of the money he was shown the way. Feeling deceived, he approached the Panjagutta police station. Yadgiri was not the only one who donated his kidney. He persuaded his three friends and they too were cheated after being paid meagre amounts. According to sources in the police, as many as 230 people in Medak district sold their kidneys in the last few years.

Exploiting desperate patients in need of immediate kidney transplant and healthy individuals caught in financial hardships, an international organ trafficking mafia is luring people into buying and selling kidneys for huge amounts.
This is what exactly happened where three people were arrested on Tuesday from the state for the death of a city dweller who was lured to Sri Lanka on the pretext of a job.
A few years back, Hyderabad emerged as the kidney transplant capital of India though the racket flourished in other cities too. Brokers or middlemen, who worked in collusion with government and private hospitals, usually never paid the promised amount to illiterate donors. What was worse is that doctors and brokers often removed a ‘donor’s’ kidney without his or her consent or knowledge.
Those familiar with the kidney trade in the city say that it is easy to get a kidney if one is willing to spend a few lakh rupees. The rich are ready to pay even up to Rs 20 lakh and if it is an emergency, would be ready to shell out Rs 10 lakh more. All one needs to do is to get admitted in one of the government registered hospitals that performs kidney transplants and rent a house near the hospital. Brokers and hospital assistants take care of the rest. On January 19, 34-year-old Mallika from Chintal Basti lodged a complaint with the police against a broker who she said had refused to pay her the promised Rs 3 lakh for her kidney. She said she was only paid Rs 30,000. Many like Mallika were forced to sell their kidney so that they could repay their debts and she in fact had given names of 8 to 10 people in her area who were neck deep in debt.
Kidney failure has become more common in rich countries, often because of obesity. In ‘transplant tourism’, the rich pay thousands of dollars to receive kidneys from poor countries, where payments are typically more than $1000 in the black market. Illegal transplants are not new in India.
Hemanth Shah, a 20-year old college student suffering from an end-stage renal disease, was in desperate need of a kidney transplant. Though his parents went from pillar to post, they could not find a donor for him in the city and Hemanth died last month.
Experts say this is not an isolated case. Hundreds of people in need of organ transplants cannot be saved every year because of lack of donors.
According to Hrudyanath, PRO at NIMS, “The donor scene in India is still dismal despite amendments to the law which the government passed in 2008. The amendments to the Transplantation of Human Organs Act (THOA), 1994, was passed following the unearthing of a thriving kidney donation racket in northern India.”
In India, organ donation is very poor. In western countries, more than 70 per cent pledge their organs. “We need to rope in religious leaders to make people aware of the need for organ donation. People have a weird thinking like whichever organ you donate, in the next life you will be born without that,” says a social worker at Mohan Foundation.
Another major problem is that in India, brain death itself is not recognised by many people.
“People think if the heart is beating, a person has to be alive which makes it difficult for us to harvest organs,” says Dr Anand Agarwal, a cardiologist at Narayana Hrudyalaya.
An organ is sold an hour- according to the The World Health Organisation. It clearly condemns all forms of illegal organ trade and has detailed that over 10,000 black market operations take place every year. Kidney trade amounts to 75 per cent of all illegal organ trades, according to the report.
The UK’s Guardian newspaper details that many foreigners who would go to China, India or Pakistan for surgery, pay up to $ 200,000 for a kidney to gangs who harvest organs from vulnerable, desperate people, sometimes for as little as $5,000.
However, there still exists a ‘huge disparity’ between demand and supply of organs for transplant which continues to promote a black market in kidneys, say doctors.
Highlighting the bleak scenario, a health ministry official who did not want to be named said, "Only five kidneys are available for every 100 patients suffering from end-stage renal failure in the country."
The problem lies, according to him, in the fact that cadaver organ transplant has not taken off in India. Cadaver transplant is when the organs of brain dead people are harvested for transplantation.
Dr Ramesh Ramaiah, a leading urologist, said, “The government as well as hospitals need to have better regulatory mechanisms to ensure patients don't fall into such traps.”
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