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Organ trade racket dates back to 2009

Updated May 01, 2017


LAHORE: The organ trade racket unearthed by the Federal Investigation Agency, Lahore, on Saturday has been operating in the country since 2009 and exploiting a number of people here to oblige its clients in Gulf countries.

The FIA arrested two doctors of public hospitals during a raid at EME society near Thokar Niaz Beg on a tip-off and shifted two donors and as many foreign recipients to the Mayo Hospital for treatment.

Main suspects - Dr Fawad Mumtaz (a surgeon at Lahore General Hospital) and Altamash Kheral (general secretary Young Doctors Association and anaesthetist specialist at LGH) - are reported to have made a windfall in this illegal business of organ transplant.

The FIA booked both doctors, their fleeing accomplice Dr Saqib and two paramedical staffers - Umer Draz and Muhammad Shahzad - under sections 10 and 11 of Punjab Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act (amended) 2012 and 109 of Pakistan Penal Code. The doctors would face up to 10-year imprisonment with fine up to Rs10 million. Their licences would also be cancelled. The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council would also initiate action against them separately.

Doctors may face up to 10-year jail, Rs10m fine

“Both the doctors during interrogation revealed that they have been looking for clients in Gulf countries through an agent stationed in Oman since 2009. They along with their other accomplices are operating in Rawalpindi and Azad Kashmir. They would charge an average Rs6 million to Rs7m from a foreign client (recipient of a kidney) and pay a just over Rs100,000 to a [poor] donor,” FIA Lahore Deputy Director Jamil Ahmed Khan Meo told Dawn.

“Main suspect - Dr Fawad Mumtaz - has become a millionaire. An 18-year-old boy lost his life at his hands during [illegal] renal transplantation. An FIR was registered against him but he managed to save his skin through blood money,” he said, adding the doctors had been involved in a number of illegal procedures. “We will make sure that they [suspects] get convicted for their crime,” Mr Meo said and added the FIA team was raiding to arrest Dr Saqib, who works at a private hospital in Bahria Town.

This is the first case the FIA Lahore registered under the [organ transplant] law after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan got this act on the agency’s schedule a few months ago.

“The is the first successful raid on those involved in the crime. The FIA will continue tracking down those involved in this business with the help of other intelligence agencies,” FIA Punjab chief Dr Usman Anwar told Dawn.

Plight of Donors

Donors - 20-year-old Ms Nahid Akhtar of Mughalpura and young rickshaw driver Muhammad Aamir of Kahna - were operated upon by the doctors in an operation theatre set up at a small rented house in EME society. “Nahid had been deprived of her kidney but the doctors failed to transplant it into recipient Munera Salam, an Omani national, because of excessive bleeding. Both women were semi-conscious when the FIA raided the house.

Similarly, the doctors had taken out Aamir’s kidney and were performing procedure on another Omani national Isa Ali. “When we raided the residence it was giving a look of a slaughter house. All four patients were critical. We called ambulances and shifted them to the Mayo Hospital where they are stable,” Mr Meo said, adding the doctors in-question had paid only Rs125,000 and Rs130,000 to Nahid and Aamir, respectively, while they (doctors) received over Rs5m from each recipient.

“My family was to pay debt that forced me to sell my kidney to arrange the amount. Extreme poverty made me to do so,” Mr Meo quoted Nahid as having said. Aamir also had the similar story.

He said the suspects had local and foreign agents who get their commission by arranging donors and recipients, respectively. “We will glean information about their agents during further interrogation,” the official said.

The FIA has also interrogated two foreign attendants of Omani nationals and seized their passports for further investigation. Medical instruments recovered from the site have been sent to the Punjab Forensic Science Laboratory for DNA and tissue testing.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2017