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Centre orders probe into cash-for-kidney allegations against Apollo hospital

The National Organ and Tissue Transplantation Organisation (NOTTO) under the Union Health Ministry has ordered an inquiry into allegations of cash-for-kidney scam against Indraprastha Apollo hospital, official sources said Tuesday.

Director of NOTTO, Dr Anil Kumar has written to Principal Secretary (Health) in the Delhi government to get the matter examined, take appropriate action according to provisions of the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act (THOTA) 1994 and furnish an action taken report within a week.

Dr Kumar has given reference to a media report alleging involvement of Apollo Hospital, Delhi and Dr Sandeep Guleria in running a kidney racket in which impoverished people from Myanmar are being enticed to sell their organs for profit.

“The report highlights that such activities may be taking place posing serious threat to health and well-being of vulnerable individuals. As per Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act (THOTA), 1994 CHAPTER IV, Section 13(3) (iv)), Secretary (Health), Government of Delhi, is the appropriate authority for NCT of Delhi to examine and investigate the matter,” the letter read.

“In this regard, you are requested to kindly get the matter examined, take appropriate action as per the provision of THOTA, 1994 and furnish an action taken report within a week,” it said.

The Indraprastha Medical Corporation Ltd (IMCL) on Monday asserted that it follows every legal and ethical requirement for transplants, including government guidelines, refuting the report which alleged that it was involved in “cash-for-kidney racket”.

The IMCL, a part of the Apollo Hospitals group, said each foreign donor is required to provide a certification from their respective foreign governments that the donor and recipient are indeed related before undertaking transplant.

“To be clear, the IMCL complies with every legal and ethical requirement for the transplant procedures including all guidelines laid down by the government as well as our own extensive internal processes that exceed compliance requirements,” a company spokesperson said.

The spokesperson was responding to a query about an international media report which has alleged that the hospital is involved in a “cash-for-kidney racket”, with poor people from Myanmar being enticed to sell their organs for profit.

Elaborating on the hospital’s process on kidney transplant, the spokesperson said the IMCL requires every donor to provide Form 21 notarised by the appropriate ministry in their country.

“This form is a certification from the foreign government that the donor and recipient are indeed related,” the spokesperson said and added that the government-appointed transplant authorisation committee at IMCL reviews documents for each case and interviews the donor and the recipient.

According to the spokesperson, the IMCL re-validates the documents with the embassy concerned of the country. The patients and donors undergo several medical tests, including genetic testing.

“These and many more steps far exceed any compliance requirements for a transplant procedure and ensure that donor and recipient are indeed related as per applicable laws. IMCL remains committed to the highest standards of ethics and to delivering on our mission to bring the best healthcare to all,” the spokesperson asserted.

Delhi-based Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals is a multi-specialty tertiary acute care hospital with more than 710 beds. PTI

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