Doctors’ involvement in illegal organ trade have been time and again exposed, and the recent kidney racket that has been unearthed in Gurgaon and Palam Vihar raises several questions on moralistic and ethical grounds
The Transplantation of The Human Organ Act 1994 enshrined in our Constitution, says the following -Organ donation cannot be carried out without the consent of the donor. Organ donation can only be undertaken for therapeutic purposes and not for commercial benefits. In addition, the donor should either be a deceased, who consented to donating his/her organs after their demise, or a brain-dead person. No human organ removed from the body of a donor before his death shall be transplanted into a recipient unless the donor is a near relative of the recipient.
Any logical person would assume that the highly educated doctors of our country would be aware of the existence of such a law. However, this is not the case as doctors too indulge in unethical practices. It is this kind of outlook that has ensured that illegal, unethical practices continue to flourish.
Many times, the cadaver organs fail to meet the demand, thus fuelling illegal organ trade. It is estimated that at least 100,000 people await a kidney transplant; 30,000 people need new livers and about 10,000 people need a heart. The cadaver organs fall short of this demand by a high margin. Hence, this shortage propels illegal organ trade. And our respected manipulative doctors use this situation to their full advantage.
Though illegal, organ trade is a very promising and flourishing business for these money chasing, ethic-squashing doctors. They have rich customers who are ready to pay them a fortune for a kidney, liver or a heart. They target poor victims who are completely ignorant of the fact that one (or many) of their essential organs have been removed from their bodies and transplanted into the another’s body.This trade is rampant and very well organized .It is also hidden extremely well from the eyes of the law enforcers. Their modus operandi ranges from the Internet, where websites advertise organ trade, to corrupt hospitals where the staff is more than willing to play dirty. Furthermore, there are also a number of intermediaries involved, who do their jobs with utmost proficiency. Once in a blue moon, such a case of heinous malpractice of the medical profession comes to light and rattles everyone.
Late on Thursday night, such a kidney scam came under the scanner, when the U.P. police force arrested four doctors, during a raid conducted in two houses situated in Gurgaon and Palam Vihar respectively. These men were arrested after it was discovered that they had removed the kidneys of three laborers without their knowledge.
There are many reasons why illegal organ trade is flourishing. The main reason is that there are very few legal donors. People still have qualms donating their organs after their death. A mass program for sensitizing the people and encouraging them to donate their organs after their death should be implemented.
“The major public hospitals and the doctors who are treating patients there, are not treating this as an important issue,” said Dr K. Ravindranath, Managing Director and Chairman of Global Hospitals, a surgeon who performs liver transplants. “There is no proper system in place to not only declare, but to take proper care of brain-dead patients.” Often,the bodyof a deceased organ donor in another hospital has to be shifted to Global Hospitals for the surgery to retrieve the organs. The innumerable hurdles and red tapism involved in this process, deters the family of the deceased from donating organs. In Hyderabad, between 2002 and the end of 2006, only 31 transplants were conducted, where the organs were donated by a brain dead patient This is according to K. Raghuram, Chief Executive, Multi-Organ Harvesting Aid Network (MOHAN), Hyderabad. The rest were undercover operations that victimized the poor and proved beneficial to the rich customers aided with the doctors involved themselves in this illegal racket. Conducting raids in a few suspicious locales, occasionally, will not put an end to this menace. We need to have an effective donor mechanism in place to counter the black marketing of such essential organs. We, the people, need to wake up to the benefits of organ donation and embrace the concept.