Illegal Organ Transplant Racket Busted in Delhi, NOTTO Seeks Report from UP Government

The country’s nodal agency for organ and tissue transplants, the National Organ & Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO), has sought an urgent report from the Uttar Pradesh government following the discovery of an illegal organ transplant racket at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in southeast Delhi. The racket has connections to Yatharth Hospital in Noida.

Operating under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, NOTTO has instructed the UP government to closely monitor the investigation and impose punitive measures on those involved in the illegal organ transplant scheme. A senior government official, who requested anonymity, stated, “We are aware of the matter and have sought a report from the UP government through our state agency. Further, an investigation is being done by the police and we are awaiting the police report.”

Last week, Delhi Police apprehended a senior kidney transplant surgeon from Apollo Hospital, who allegedly conducted numerous organ transplant surgeries involving Bangladeshi patients at Yatharth hospital, bypassing proper government authorizations. Amit Goel, DCP, Crime Branch, confirmed the arrest of seven individuals, including the doctor, in connection with the international organ transplant racket.

The investigation has revealed that despite the government’s authorization committee rejecting the transplants at Apollo Hospital, Dr. D Vijaya Rajakumari allegedly carried out the transplant surgeries at other hospitals. “We also suspect that there is some outside connection. The central government is closely watching the development. Additionally, the health ministry has taken a series of measures to curb the involvement of foreign nationals involved in illegal organ transplantation in India,” the official added. Queries sent to the health ministry spokesperson remain unanswered.

An Apollo Hospital spokesperson, in a statement, clarified, “The Delhi Police’s Crime Branch department had taken custody of a doctor who had been engaged on a fee-for-service basis and not on the hospital’s payroll. This action is subsequent to an investigation pertaining to procedures carried out at another hospital and prima-facie not related to any action or acts at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals (IAH). Given this action by the police, IAH had placed the doctor under suspension. IAH was previously approached by the Crime Branch seeking certain information as part of an investigation, which was duly provided.”

“We reiterate our utmost commitment to adhering to all laws, rules and regulations in relation to clinical and administrative processes for all patients, national or international. Our processes have been reviewed by competent government authorities who have upheld our record of compliance,” the hospital’s statement added, emphasizing their full cooperation with the investigating authorities.

Earlier this month, the health ministry requested the home and external affairs ministries to educate foreign nationals visiting India for organ transplants about the legal requirements for the procedure. Recent incidents of illegal organ transplants have been reported in hospitals in Gujarat and Rajasthan, among other locations.

“The government is very serious to stop illegal activity related to organ transplants. The health ministry has already written to all the hospitals to lodge FIRs in matters related to illegal transplants and devise a mechanism to do regular inspection of registered organ transplants in the hospital,” the official stated. “We have also sought data from states/UTs related to organ transplantation within the states. However, we are yet to get the complete data,” the official added.

Meanwhile, Yatharth Hospitals, in a statement, denied any direct association with the doctor under investigation, clarifying that she is affiliated with another hospital. “For all our procedures, we ensure the highest ethical standards, prioritize patient safety and comply with all clinical and government protocols. We have co-operated fully with all investigations, and there have been no findings of wrongdoing against our hospital or our practices,” the hospital stated.

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