FIVE months after a kidney racket was busted at the Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital resulting in suspension of its licence for organ transplant surgeries, the charitable hospital has approached the state government to re-issue its licence for carrying out life-saving surgeries.
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According to senior health department officials, the request has been rejected by the Directorate of Health Services (DHS). A second appeal will now be made to the state advisory committee — a newly formed panel constituted soon after the kidney racket was busted. The panel, headed by principal health secretary of the state, has been constituted to keep a close watch on organ transplant procedures and permissions for live transplants. “The committee can take a final call on whether the hospital can conduct transplants. We have denied them the permission,” said Dr Satish Pawar, director of DHS.
According to DHS officials, the hospital’s request was rejected on several counts – it has an ongoing legal case under various sections of the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994. Three pending inquiries of separate illegal transplants are also pending against the hospital, and the names of five senior doctors have been listed in the chargesheet.
The Powai-based hospital had 230 patients on its waitlist, who were referred to other hospitals for transplants soon after its licence was suspended in July. According to Hiranandani officials, queries for transplants keep on coming, but the patients have to be referred to other centres.
The hospital’s five doctors, including CEO Dr Sujit Chatterjee, were arrested after the Powai police busted an ongoing illegal transplant at the hospital. Donor Shobha Thakur was donating her kidney to businessman Brijkishor Jaiswal, posing as his wife, when the racket was busted.
While the police have filed a chargesheet in the case, three more suspected transplants under the scanner of DHS are at a standstill as far as investigations are concerned. “We have only recorded the statement of one donor in the second case. We will soon write to the police to present our findings,” said a DHS official.
According to a senior health official, the investigation in the three kidney transplants has, however, been put on the back burner for over a month now as there is no officer assigned to investigate the case. Organ transplant in-charge Dr Gauri Rathod has been asked to step down from the ongoing investigations.
In the other alleged illegal transplants under the scanner this year at Hiranandani hospital, 23-year-old Sunder Singh donated his kidney posing as the brother of recipient Dimple Manak Himraamka (Roongta). In the second case, Ramilaben Sureshbhai Kathiriya (36) was given a kidney by a donor from Gujarat, who posed as her sister Harshaben Bharatbhai Kevadiya (42) in May this year.
According to a senior police officer, several reminders have been sent to the DHS for reports on other illegal transplants. The DHS is yet to respond on its findings to the police.