Organ donation is explained as the donation of a biological tissue or organ of a human body, from a living or dead person, to a living recipient in need of a transplantation.
To facilitate and regulate organ donation from a brain dead person, the government in 1994 enacted a law called The Transplantation of the Human Organ Act 1994 . Later the law was amended to allow for organ donation from living persons. To curb misuse of the law it was amended in 2011.
India is seen as a major country with expertise in organ transplantation. With a large population, there is a long list of patients who are in urgent need for organ transplantation. It is this demand from desperate patients that a parallel industry facilitating illegal and often forced organ donation, has come up which exploits poor persons in need for money by encouraging them to donate an organ, usually a kidney. In several cases, unsuspecting patients are operated upon without their knowledge and a kidney removed by unscrupulous doctors.
Unfortunately, this has now become an organised racket as was seen in the organ racket expose in Gurgaon, Haryana in 2008.
In a case that was widely reported in the media, one Dr Amit Kumar along with his brother and other associates, were operating a well-organised racket to facilitate organ transplant surgeries on poor and in many cases, unsuspecting donors and offer the organ to rich recipients from countries like the US, UK, Canada, Greece and Saudi Arabia, who were more than willing to pay large sums for the organ.
The illegal operation came to light with complaints received in Moradabad, U.P, regarding illegal organ donations. As a follow-up to this lead, police raided several clinics in Gurgaon and parts of Haryana, as well as locations in Meerut and Western U.P. Dr Amit Kumar, who was identified as a quack, fled to Nepal and was subsequently arrested from there.
Investigations revealed that he ran the well-organised racket from 3 hospitals, 5 diagnostic centres, and 10 laboratories. There were over 50 persons involved in the racket that carried out over 500 transplant surgeries spread over several years.
The case was later handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation and the case finally led to the prosecution of Dr Amit Kumar and Dr Upender Dublesh in 2013, who were sentenced to seven years in jail and fined Rs 60 lakhs each. The other accomplices were given varying sentences. However, both Dr Amit and Dr Upender were subsequently released as the CBI was unable to produce adequate evidence against them.
Due to its proximity to Delhi and a growing wealthy community of residents, Gurgaon has emerged as a hub for several illegal activities related to the health services. This is further exacerbated by poor monitoring and follow-up by the government of health services in both the government and private hospitals and clinics.
The state of public health services in Haryana is in poor shape due to lack of modern medical diagnostic equipment in government run hospitals. In hospitals where the equipment is available, they barely function on account of poor maintenance and unavailability of trained staff.
The state government has let huge investments in the sector go down the drain, as the misuse of funds along with improper utilisation of equipment only adds to the problem.
While the central government has to look into amending the laws relating to organ transplantation to ensure the loopholes are plugged, the state governments have their responsibility to ensure that such illegal activities are not carried out in their respective states.
Reference: Media reports