In 2016, two senior Apollo Hospital doctors were questioned in connection with the kidney racket (File).
Apollo Hospitals has denied a media report claiming its flagship facility in Delhi - the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital - is at the centre of an international "cash for kidneys" racket that sees poor people from Myanmar (formerly Burma) flown to the city to have their kidneys harvested in exchange for Rs 80-90 lakh (£2,700 to £3,100) each. The illegally acquired organs are then sold to ailing rich patients from around the world, including the United Kingdom.
"To be clear, the Indraprastha Medical Corporation Ltd (the Indraprastha Hospital) complies with every legal and ethical requirement for transplant procedures, including guidelines by the government and our extensive internal processes, which exceed compliance requirements," Apollo Hospitals said.
"The allegations made in the recent international media (report) against IMCL are absolutely false, ill-informed, and misleading. All the facts were shared in detail with the concerned journalist," the hospital, which is part of the multi-billion dollar Apollo Hospitals group, said in a report by news agency PTI.
A IMCL spokesperson said every donor had to provide documentation from their government - which confirms a familial relationship to the recipient - and that a government-appointed committee at the hospital reviewed each case, and interviewed each donor and recipient, before allowing the transplant.
The spokesperson said IMCL then re-validates each document with the concerned embassy. The donor and recipient then undergo medical tests that would red-flag the absence of a genetic relationship.
"These steps far exceed any compliance requirements for a transplant procedure and ensure the donor and recipient are related," the spokesperson said, stating IMCL is "committed" to the ethical standards.
The Union Heath Ministry has not yet commented on The Telegraph's report.
Apollo Hospitals also spoke to The Telegraph and declared itself "completely shocked" by the report. It said it would launch an internal investigation, and stressed that "any suggestion of willful complicity, or implicit sanctioning, of any illegal activities relating to organ transplants is wholly denied".
The Telegraph report, published 9 am Saturday, quotes an 'agent' in the alleged illegal trade as suggesting the steps outlined may not be followed as strictly or as consistently as the hospital stated. "The hospital asks the official questions.... and on this side they tell the official lies," she had claimed.
The 'agent' told The Telegraph "it is big business..." and that those involved "work together to get around obstacles between the two governments" since it is illegal, in India and Myanmar, to pay for or receive organs from a stranger without the authorities' permission.
According to The Telegraph, the racket involves extensive forgery - everything from 'family' photographs, that suggest a relationship between the donor and recipient, to government documents, and that the money paid to the donor is seen as a "thank you" payment and not for "buying" a kidney.
This is not the first time allegations of an illegal organ racket have been made against Apollo Hospitals.
In 2016, Delhi Police questioned two senior doctors from the Indraprastha Hospital in connection with the kidney trading scam. This was after the arrest of a senior nephrologist's staff member and after one T Rajkumar Rao, the alleged kingpin of the scam, was also taken into custody.
READ | Kidney Racket Busted In Delhi's Apollo Hospital, 5 Persons Arrested
At the time, Apollo Hospitals said it was the "victim of a well-orchestrated operation carried out by few individuals with malafide intent (and) who deliberately committed forgery and fraud". "The hospital has the highest regard for the law... and urges police to take their investigation to its logical conclusion."
With input from agencies
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