India’s medical tourism: Whose life is it saving?


(eTN) – India’s much-vaunted foray into medical tourism has come under dark clouds following a question of medical ethics over reports of poor Indians illegally selling their kidneys, and the latest exposure of a transplant racket in Gurgaon.

The police raided a clinic in New Delhi suburb last week uncovering a ring that involves a network of at least four doctors, several hospitals, two dozen nurses and paramedics, a mobile laboratory spanning five Indian states. The raid has resulted to the arrest of a doctor so far, according to published reports in India.

Authorities believe the ringleader, who has been on the police wanted list for past transplant schemes, has now fled India.

Gurgaon’s police commissioner said Mohinder Lal said in statement laced with incredulity, “Due to its scale, we believe more members of the New Delhi medical fraternity must have been aware of what was going on.”

The exposure in Gurgaon has further tarnished India’s appeal as a destination for its “cheap” cost of medical tourism – from tummy tucks, to heart surgery, kidney transplant and its latest “product” wombs for hire.

Indian police estimate in the past nine years Indian hospitals has done up to 500 kidney transplants on foreign patients who have succumbed to India’s lure as a destination for medical tourism.

Kidneys are quoted as cheap as US$1,125 after donors were practically “forced” onto the operating table, according to the Hindustan Times.

A police raid on one clinic specializing in kidney transplants unearthed a waiting list of 48 “recipients” including three Greeks and two Americans of Indian descent.

A man, who had one kidney forcibly taken from him after being lured with promises of work in New Delhi, is now recovering under police protection. He has claimed that there were two other men in the house who also had their kidneys forcibly taken. “I didn’t know I could live with one kidney. I thought I could earn money and save it for my children, but I never received any money.”

According to Indian law, the sale of human organs is illegal.