After two personal assistants of a senior nephrologist at Apollo Hospital were among those arrested in connection with an interstate kidney racket in the capital, police are looking into how the gang managed to get past the stringent system in place to check organ donations.
Apollo Hospital has an independent transplant authorisation body with five members, including two external members, that is mandated by the Transplant of Human Organs Act. Sources said the external members in the committee include a retired bureaucrat and a hospital administrator from another private trust-based hospital in Delhi.
Sources confirmed that the treating surgeon for any transplant procedure, for any organ, has not been part of Apollo’s transplant committee. They added that the senior consultant in nephrology — under whom the two accused worked — was not part of this committee. In its statement, the hospital claimed the two accused are “not employees” but were “secretarial staff of some doctors”.
Sources said being the consultant’s assistants, the two accused had access to files and personal details of patients which they passed on to the gang.
According to hospital representatives, the committee includes a senior member of the administration, who is the chairperson, and two senior doctors from the hospital, who are not a part of the treating team or the transplant procedure. “The authorisation committee should make up this composition. We have fulfilled those requirements,” said a hospital source.
According to the rules, this standing hospital committee is mandated to ensure there is no commercial transaction between the recipient and the donor, or “that no payment has been made to the donor or promised to be made to the donor or any other person”.
The committee is also mandated to “prepare an explanation of the link between them (donor and recipient) and the circumstances which led to the offer being made”. The act requires the committee to specifically examine the reasons why the donor wishes to donate, examine the documentary evidence of the link, e.g. proof that they have lived together, examine old photographs; and evaluate that there is no middleman or tout involved”.
Hospital sources said the committee is required to verify documents in the case of all living donor transplants.
A hospital source said, “The only explanation is that these pictures were photoshopped, because our records show that in every case, records such as pictures were sought along with identification documents. If the donors are not related, then these have obviously been forged.”
The committee also has to evaluate the financial status of the donor and the recipient “by asking them to give evidence of their vocation and income for the previous three years”.
Asked if these records were sought by the committee, officials said proof of such documentation has already been submitted to police. “The documentary evidence regarding financial status was given in the form of bank statements and fixed deposits,” said an official.
Apollo Hospital, in a statement said, “This committee goes through all documents necessary to ensure that requirements under the Act are complied with. Further, the hospital has ensured that all due processes as per the law have been followed.”