Nearly 244 patients waiting for an organ transplant at LH Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, are bearing the brunt of the scam that was unearthed at the hospital this year. The hospital’s organ transplant licence has since been suspended. Some have reported witnessing discrepancies in the functioning of the hospital’s kidney transplant procedures of the hospital, and others, who have perhaps been affected the most, found their names had been dropped further below in the priority list after the scam broke out.
The list of patients, made on the basis of age, sex and priority score , was part of the 800-page charge sheet filed by the Powai police in the illegal kidney transplant case that broke out on July 14 at the hospital. The police mentioned that the document was in the custody of Nilesh Kamble, transplant coordinator of the hospital, who was arrested on the same day (July 14).
While according to organ transplant procedures, these patients were also registered with a number of other hospitals of the city, those higher on the priority list and facing chronic renal failure, had to run around to make subsidiary arrangements.
Nagendra Gawade, who had registered at the hospital for a kidney transplant in 2013, said he was not informed when the hospital’s licence was cancelled. “We got to know about it through the newspapers. We are registered at PD Hinduja Hospital as well, but I was third on the priority list,” said Gawade.
He added that he was one of the four patients to attend the organ compatibility test done by the hospital when the last transplant took place. “Kamble had told me my surgery will take place within three months. Because we registered late, we are yet to get a priority score at other hospitals,” said Gawade, who undergoes three dialysis sessions every week because of his chronic renal failure.
For Vishakha Doshi, the experience at LH Hiranandani was further devastating because her surgery was called off while she was on the operation table. “The compatibility tests were done and since I was the ideal match, my surgery was scheduled on April 22, 2015. I was lying on the operation table with the lights on when Dr Mukesh Shah informed my mother that the surgery has been called off,” said Doshi. She said the surgery was called off because it was claimed the kidney that was supposed to be transplanted was infected. Doshi, also a patient suffering from chronic renal failure, also has to undergo three dialysis sessions a week.
Another patient, on condition of anonymity, said they were referred to LH Hiranandani from nephrologists in Latur and were asked if they could arrange for a donor. “We had submitted the documents at the hospital and were registered for cadaver transplant. We were assured that the surgery can be scheduled immediately, provided we get a live donor ourselves,” said the 25-year-old patient. The family, unaware of the illegalities of organ transplant procedures, later got to know about the scam and went back to Latur. “We didn’t even contact the hospital because we were afraid that our names will also be pulled in,” said the patient, requesting anonymity.
THE WAITING LIST
In Mumbai, the Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre (ZTCC) maintains the computerized waiting list, blood group wise, for each organ like kidney, liver, heart and lung, as per the priority criteria given in the Maharashtra State guidelines. All the registered transplant hospitals send the information of the patients who require organ in the prescribed form for listing. For kidney, each patient is given priority score as per the Govt. guidelines. At the same time, each hospital maintains a separate priority list of patients, registered through their hospitals based on similar criteria. According to the norms, in the case of cadaver donation, one kidney goes to the donor hospital and the other is offered to the compatible recipient, according to the ZTCC list.