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Rogue doctors go global, Indian kidneys on sale

Patients came from Greece, Canada to collect organs from poor labourers in Gurgaon, reports Sanjeev K Ahuja. The Right Way

india Updated: Jan 26, 2008 04:10 IST
Sanjeev K Ahuja

It’s a standard three-storey house in an upscale Gurgaon colony. A shingle outside says that it’s owned by a lawyer. Inside, it’s a state-of-the-art hospital that is at the centre of a global kidney racket uncovered in police raids through Thursday night and Friday.

People in need of kidney came here from all over the world, checked into a guesthouse (run as part of the racket). And as soon as a match was found — usually a poor labourer — the transplant was carried out.

<b1>The recipient got a kidney for anything between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 25 lakh. Out of this, the donor got Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh; the rest was split between the doctors running the hospital and their network of middlemen.

The police raided this hospital and others in Moradabad and Ballabgarh and arrested a doctor, his driver and three middlemen.

The police also rescued five donors — all poor labourers — from a house. Three of them had already been operated upon. Police also detained two patients and three persons accompanying them. The patients were identified as Joy Mathewal, a 53-year-old NRI from the US and Heleni Kitroki, also 53, from Greece.

A man called Dr Amit Kumar masterminded the whole operation, the police said. They are still looking for him. He earlier went by another name — Dr Santosh Rameshwar Raut — when he was in Mumbai.

The police said they are also looking for Kumar’s brother Dr Jeewan Kumar and two other doctors — Dr Saraj Kumar and Dr Upendra Kumar.

Addressing reporters, Gurgaon police chief Mohinder Lal said, “We suspect around 400 or 500 kidney transplants were done by these doctors, over the last nine years.”

Kumar was earlier arrested in Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai for the same offence, but he managed to survive and thrive. His Gurgaon hospital was also raided some years ago and he was the subject of two sting operation by television news channels. Yet he remained in business.

The police said Kumar's gang consisted of over two-dozen doctors, helpers and touts. It was a dispute between two touts over the distribution of commission that brought the police to his illegal hospital.

One of them tipped off a Moradabad police constable, who informed his seniors. A team was then set up under police officer Manjil Saini. The investigations culminated in a joint raid in Gurgaon and Moradabad.

The police said Kumar’s clients came mostly come from the US, England, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Greece. The donors were mostly labourers from Meerut, Muradabad, Gaziabad and Delhi.

The three labourers, Wasim, Salim and Shakel, who had been recently operated upon told HT that they had been promised jobs worth Rs 150 per day plus free food, housing and other perks.

Kumar, the police said, would spend at least six months in Canada, where his family stays, looking for clients. His family shifted to Canada after the raid at his Gurgaon hospital some years back. He would shift base to India during winters.

(With inputs from S Raju, Meerut)