NEW DELHI: Delhi Government recently passed an order suspending the licence of Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals to conduct kidney transplant for three months, said officials. Last year, Delhi Police had arrested several people, including two personal secretaries of a nephrologist at the hospital, for allegedly arranging donors for transplant patients.

On average, Apollo hospital conducts 15-20 transplants in a month. The hospital authorities said those enrolled before the issuance of the government order will get operated upon as scheduled.

“The government of Delhi has suspended the licence to carry out kidney transplants at Indraprastha Apollo Delhi till January 5. However, in the interest of patients, the government has allowed us to operate cases approved by the committee prior to issuance of the order,” the hospital said in a statement.

The statement added that the controversial kidney case of last year was investigated by authorities and by their internal committee. “It was conclusively found that Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals was a victim in the entire issue and had no direct involvement in the matter, which was attributable to external actors. We continue to reiterate that there has been no wrong doing on our part,” the hospital said.

According to Transplant Act , only a relative can donate a kidney to a patient as a living donor transplant. Unrelated donors can only give up one of their kidneys if there is evidence to show they know the recipients for a long period and there were no pressure and financial transactions involved.

However, police investigations revealed a racket in which middlemen lured poor people with money to donate their organs. They donated organs for transplants at big hospitals in Delhi and other states with the help of forged documents.

Probe also revealed that donors were arranged by paying Rs 3-4 lakh, while the recipients had to shell out up to Rs 50 lakh for the transplant.

In India, nearly four lakh people require kidney transplant at any given time. At most, 8,000 are able to avail of donors. While others wait endlessly, sometimes succumbing to the disease even before a potential donor is identified, many have to survive through dialysis, a process in which a patient’s blood is cleaned of toxins by a machine. It is neither cost-effective nor a long-term solution.

Because of this huge gap in supply and demand, medical experts feel kidney rackets will continue to proliferate despite the checks and balances. Strict implementation of existing laws is a must to ensure that nobody is forced into donating his or her kidney, say experts.

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