Three of the five doctors arrested in connection with the illegal kidney transplant racket in Powai’s Hiranandani Hospital have claimed that they were not aware of the Transplantation of Human Organs Act.
All three -- nephrologist Dr Mukesh Shete, and urologists Dr Mukesh Shah and Dr Prakash Shetty — are transplant specialists and this is what has baffled the committee of doctors set up the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) who quizzed them about the racket and submitted a report to the government.
Dr Shetty and Dr Shah said that they didn’t speak to donors in advance and met them just 15 minutes before surgery. “Under the law, a panel of doctors is supposed to have a detailed discussion with the patients and donors,” said a member of the DHS committee.
The committee’s investigation also revealed that Dr Shete, in violation of the law, performed both parts of the procedure – retrieving the organ from the donor and transplanting it into the recipient, apparently to limit the involvement of other doctors. “According to the law, both surgeries are supposed to take place simultaneously. But when we checked the patients, we found out that only Thakur had an incision on her abdomen. This indicates that only one doctor was to perform both the surgeries,” said a DHS official.
The report states that while Dr Shete was a central figure in the racket, the two urologists played supporting roles. A DHS official, who did not wish to be named, said that while there is still no evidence that Dr Chatterjee and Dr Naik were directly involved in the racket, the two had failed to ensure that other doctors at the hospital adhered to the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, when performing transplants.
The racket was exposed after the Powai police, acting on a tip-off, halted an illegal kidney transplant at the hospital on July 14. Using forged documents, Shobha Thakur, the would-be donor, was presented as the wife of Brijkishor Jaiswal, a Surat businessman who needed a new kidney. However, DHS officials said that on July 18, when they went to the hospital to question Jaiswal and Thakur, they found the two had been put up in the same room. “Hospital authorities, despite knowing that the two were not husband and wife, didn’t even attempt to put them in separate rooms. We found this completely outrageous,” said a DHS official, who did not wish to be named.