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Delhi's Apollo Hospital faces allegations of illegal kidney trade with Myanmar; IMCL refutes claims

The article exposes alleged involvement of Apollo Hospital in Delhi in an illicit kidney trade operation with Myanmar, detailing illegal transactions, falsification of documents, and investigative findings.

Delhi Apollo Hospital faces allegations of illegal kidney trade with Myanmar; prompts health inquiry snt
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First Published Dec 5, 2023, 4:17 PM IST

The Telegraph, a London-based newspaper, has ignited controversy by asserting that Apollo Hospital in Delhi is implicated in the illicit procurement of kidneys from impoverished individuals in Myanmar for affluent patients in that nation. The publication alleges that, despite organ payment being prohibited in India, a Myanmar intermediary informed its journalist that "it's big business."

According to the report, the operation entails sophisticated falsification of identity documents and the creation of staged 'family' photographs to portray donors as relatives of prospective patients.

According to the laws of both India and Myanmar, under normal circumstances, a patient is not permitted to receive an organ from a stranger.

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The report, identifying a doctor from the hospital, asserts that substantial amounts of money are exchanged in these illicit transplantations.

The newspaper contends that it uncovered the fraudulent scheme while investigating the case of a 58-year-old patient, Daw Soe Soe, who reportedly paid 8 million Myanmar Kyat for a kidney in September 2022. The transplantation purportedly took place at the Delhi hospital.

The report asserts that the donor was entirely unknown to the recipient. According to The Telegraph's investigation, their reporter assumed the role of a relative seeking a kidney transplant for a "sick aunt" without any family members available for donation. Upon contacting Apollo's Myanmar office, they were allegedly informed that a stranger would be arranged to donate the kidney.

Describing an individual as an Apollo representative, the reporter was informed that 80 percent of transplantations facilitated in Myanmar involved strangers, while only 20 percent involved relatives. The report details that the reporter was then introduced to a 27-year-old man from the outskirts of Mandalay who expressed the need to sell his kidney due to the challenging financial situation of his elderly parents with whom he lived.

The report further stated that "the agent, who was present during the conversation, said it would cost roughly £3,000 for the man’s kidney and revealed she had been arranging donations of this kind for the past five years." Allegedly, one of the agents went on to inform the undercover reporter about the methods they use to fabricate photos submitted to the board in order to establish a purported relationship between the donor and the recipient.

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The report identifies a Myanmarese doctor, described as the head of Apollo's Myanmar operations, who allegedly shared with the reporter a document detailing the expenses associated with the procedure. These expenses range from creating a family tree (£315) to flights (£200 each way) and "registration for the medical board" (£160). According to the document, a patient may be expected to pay up to £17,100 in total for a kidney transplant, excluding the amount paid to the donor. The report, naming a doctor from the hospital, alleges that substantial sums of money are exchanged to facilitate such illegal transplants.

In response to the allegations, the hospital has refuted them as "false, ill-informed, and misleading." The Indraprastha Medical Corporation Ltd. said, "The allegations made in the recent international media against IMCL are absolutely false, ill-informed and misleading. All the facts were shared in detail with the concerned journalist. To be clear, IMCL complies with legal and ethical requirement for transplant procedures, including all guidelines laid down by the government as well as our own extensive internal processes that exceed compliance requirements."

IMCL spokesperson further stated that the hospital 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.

 

As per the spokesperson, IMCL verifies the documents by liaising with the respective embassy of the country. Both patients and donors undergo a series of medical examinations, 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.

Following the accusations, S B Deepak Kumar, the Delhi government's secretary of health and family welfare, reportedly stated that they were initiating an inquiry. Dr Anil Kumar, the director of the National Organ and Tissue Transplantation Organisation (NOTTO), mentioned that they, along with the ministry, will investigate the allegations.

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