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Saturday, May 25, 2024

India to probe Apollo Hospital Delhi’s alleged links to ‘cash for kidneys’ scandal

The head of Apollo’s Myanmar operation gave an “Apollo-branded costs document” to the undercover reporter.

Apollo Hospitals chain is allegedly involved in an international ‘cash for kidney’ racket, in which impoverished people from Myanmar are lured to sell their kidneys for profit, an investigation carried out by the UK’s Telegraph newspaper has revealed.

The hospital group on Tuesday (December 5) vehemently denied the allegations, saying they were “absolutely false, ill-informed, and misleading.” Here are the highlights of the report.

Read more: Arrests Made in Underground Kidney Trafficking Ring

1. What is the ‘cash for kidney’ racket?

The report has revealed that poor young villagers from Myanmar are being flown to Apollo’s Delhi hospital and paid to donate their kidneys to rich patients around the world. The racket involves “elaborate forging of identity documents and staging of ‘family’ photographs to present donors as the relatives of would-be patients,” it added.

A patient can’t receive an organ donation from a stranger in normal circumstances, under Indian and Burmese laws.

Read more: The whats and hows of kidney cleanse

2. How do patients find donors?

As part of the investigation, one of the Telegraph’s reporters posed as a relative of a sick aunt, who urgently needed a kidney transplant but had no family members able to donate. The reporter reached out to Apollo’s Myanmar offices, and was told that a “stranger would be sourced to donate their kidney.”

An Apollo agent then put the reporter in touch with a 27-year-old Burmese man, who said he needed to sell his kidney as his elderly parents were “not in a good financial condition”.

The reporter was also told that a patient can choose their donor and then arrange a payment to the individual.

3. How much money does it cost to source the kidney?

The head of Apollo’s Myanmar operation gave an “Apollo-branded costs document” to the undercover reporter. It mentioned a host of expenses regarding kidney transplantation — from the drawing up of a family tree (Rs 33,000) to flights (Rs 21,000 each way) and “registration for the medical board” (Rs 16,700).

The document also said a patient can expect to incur, in total, up to (Rs 1,79,500). This, however, didn’t include the money given to a donor, which could be around 70 or 80 lakh in most cases.