The state government-appointed representative, who was an important member of the Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital’s ethics committee, which approves all documents for organ transplants, will be questioned by the three-member inquiry committee set up by the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) next week. The police informed the sessions court on Friday that the ethics committee including a medical superintendent, failed to check for proper documents before giving a go-ahead to the transplants despite knowing the onus of verification falls on them.
The DHS-appointed committee comprises Dr Gauri Rathod, nodal officer for the state’s organ transplant programme, Dr Sujata Pathwardhan, urologist from KEM Hospital, and Dr Kalpana Mehta, nephrologist from Nair Hospital.
According to one of the members of the inquiry committee, the government-appointed member of the ethics committee has been contacted and they will investigate his role as he was a part of the team that approved the forged documents submitted by the would-be-recipient in the kidney scam at Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital, Powai.
“ The government-appointed member is supposed to make sure the hospital’s doctors, who are in the committee, are following the rules,” said the member. “He will be questioned next Tuesday.”
The ethics committee of all hospitals that perform organ transplants comprises six people — the medical director of the hospital, two senior doctors from the same hospital who are not part of transplant team, two members from society and a Directorate of Health Services nominee.
The Powai police told the court that the ethics committee, which includes a medical superintendent, chairman and other members, did not check the documents properly and gave clearance to transplants. The police have said that the committee is responsible to ensure the documents are verified.
“Brijkishore Jaiswal, the kidney recipient, had produced a marriage certificate introducing one woman as his wife, but did not submit any other proof. Despite the lack of documents, the committee gave a clearance. It was also shown that the woman’s brother will be the donor,” the police submitted before the Dindoshi sessions court on Friday.
“I have been wondering as to why nothing has been coming out about the DHS nominee who is part of the ethics committee team. It is an important question,” said Dr Bharat Shah, senior nephrologist and secretary of the Indian Nephrology Association.
“Why are doctors who were not even a part of the committee being made a scapegoat,” he added. Officials from L H Hiranandani Hospital said that the other three members of the ethics committee only counter signs and it is the DHS member who confirms the authenticity of the documents. “The quorum of four HAC members cannot meet without the presence of the DHS member. If the government cannot verify the authenticity of the documents, we just do not know how to prevent this in the future,” said the official spokesperson from the hospital.
(With Inputs from Farhan Shaikh)
Doctors Won’t Forward Any New Transplant Applications
While all kidney transplants that have been approved by the state government and hospital ethics committee will be conducted as scheduled, members of the city’s nephrology and urology associations said they will not send any new applications of donors for approval.
In the wake of the recent arrests of two urologists — Dr Mukesh Shah, Dr Prakesh Shetty and a nephrologist — Dr Mukesh Shete from Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital, doctors said that they are scared of being implicated by police for not identifying forged documents.
“Our job is to see if the donor and the recipient are medically fit for operations. It is the state authorising committee and the hospital ethics committee, which is responsible for approving documents submitted by the patients,” said Dr Shrikant Badwe, president, Mumbai Urological Society. He added that in Mumbai, doctors perform around 400 kidney transplants in a year. “We are yet to take a call if we will do transplants of kidneys from cadaver donations as it will be a waste if they are not used,” said Dr Badwe.
The Mumbai nephrology and urology society have decided to jointly write a letter to the Directorate of Health Services, demanding that they should be absolved from responsibilities related to clearing documents.
“There are around three patients who are scheduled for transplants. But, we will not do any new ones till the government doesn’t give us an assurance that surgeons will not be expected to clear papers,” said Dr Bharat Shah, senior nephrologist.
However, Dr Pravin Shinagre, directorate of Medical Education and Research, said the government will be forced to take action against doctors if they decide to stop doing the transplants.