While the police confirmed that the kidney transplants on the six Indians who were arrested last month (March 3) were done in Sri Lanka, some of the authorities of the major hospitals who have been implicated in the kidney transplant racket denied the surgeries were carried out in those hospitals. Last week the police arrested [...]


Major hospitals deny kidney transplants were carried out by them

CCD probe on, INTERPOL assistance sought

While the police confirmed that the kidney transplants on the six Indians who were arrested last month (March 3) were done in Sri Lanka, some of the authorities of the major hospitals who have been implicated in the kidney transplant racket denied the surgeries were carried out in those hospitals.

Last week the police arrested eight Indian nationals for overstaying in the country. Investigations have revealed that six of the men had donated their kidneys in Sri Lanka.

However the Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) said that it was investigating the time line of the surgeries done on the men arrested so as to determine whether they were done after the kidney transplants on foreigners were suspended in the private hospitals.

ASP Ruwan Gunasekera said it was not possible to determine whether the surgeries had been done in the recent past. It said the Attorney General’s help is being sought to get the assistance of INTERPOL . He said around 286 documents and six rubber stamps found in the possession of the men arrested will be sent for investigation to INTERPOL.

The men who were originally charged with overstaying   were further remanded and are at the Mirihana Detention Centre.

In January 2016 the Health Ministry brought in a suspension order on kidney transplants on foreigners, after the Indian media cried foul and accused Sri Lankan doctors of carrying out unethical kidney transplant surgeries. The media alleged that over 60 transplants have been done by these doctors in five leading private hospitals in the country in the past three years.

Following this development, the Health Ministry appointed a three member committee to inquire into the allegation. A report confirming the involvement of five doctors who have been doing the surgeries in leading hospitals has been released and the issue is under further investigation by the CCD. The investigation of the six men arrested has also been handed over to the CCD in an effort to determine a link between the two.

Meanwhile authorities at the private hospitals implicated in the kidney transplant trade said that they had not  carried out any kidney transplant surgery following the suspension order issued by the Health Ministry.

Hemas Hospital, Head of Medical Programme, Dr. Panna Gunaratne said the hospital authorities havd taken a policy decision to stop all kidney transplants on foreigners until the Health Ministry clears up the controversy over the transplants. “We have not done any kidney transplants since the directive,” he said.

Western Hospital Chairman, Wijeya Ransi said that the hospital has suspended all transplants on foreigners. “We are waiting for the go ahead from the Health Ministry to resume the surgeries,” he said.

Nawaloka Hospitals Chairman Prof. Lal Chandrasena also took the same line and said not a single surgery had been performed at the hospital since the surgeries were suspended. “Not even on locals. We are waiting for the go ahead,” he said.

The Health Ministry, however, said that urgent and authentic surgeries on foreigners would be allowed. Health Deputy Director Dr. Jayasundera Bandera said that the documents submitted by hospitals seeking permission for kidney transplant surgeries will undergo thorough scrutiny in order to determine the genuineness of the claims. He said that kidneys donated   with altruistic motives will be accepted. “We will ensure that all transplants are done under the Tissue Act,” he said.

Dr. Jayasundera said that the Health Ministry will be able to trace the records of the surgeries on the six Indians if the time period it was done is revealed. “We maintain all records of the surgeries done in the private hospitals and if the period the surgeries were done is determined we can check them with our records,” he said.

He went on to say that donors from overseas bring affidavits to say that they are donating their kidneys for altruistic reasons maintaining that no money was exchanged. “ But we have no way of finding out whether the documents are genuine and also if the papers have been forged,” he said. However he emphasized that documents that seem doubtful are not signed by the Director General of Health.

He said that the Health Ministry is trying to work out an agreed upon mechanism with the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka to verify the documents that are being submitted.

To counteract forged documents presented by Sri Lankans, the Health Ministry is planning to establish an ‘ideal system’ that would flush out all corruption where monies are exchanged for kidney donations. “This will even stop ransom claims by donors and middlemen from recipients,” he said

He said that plans are underway to start up a kidney cadaver tissue bank where potential kidney donors will be able to donate their kidneys. “This will operate like the blood bank and the kidneys will be given to those who are urgently in need of an emergency transplant,” he said.

He said that this is being done in the Colombo and Kandy General Hospitals and that the Health Ministry is planning to establish banks in all other major hospitals in the country.

However only kidneys of brain dead people and those who have accidental deaths will be accepted by the bank, he said. “All those who are willing to donate their kidneys will have to register with the cadaver bank indicating their willingness to donate,” he added.

Also the Health Ministry will be collaborating with the registrar of motor vehicles (RMV) to obtain consent from volunteer donors, and this information will be included in the driving license. “we are looking at the legal provisions needed for the donation and trying to have provisions for a socially agreed consent form,” he said.

“This way the digital driver’s license can be checked quickly and the patient can be transported to the nearest hospital for the kidney removal,” he said.

However Dr. Jayasundera said that, until such time, the hospitals will be allowed to continue with the surgeries on approval by the Health Ministry.

Once we are established we hope to promote this donation during the Vesak and Poson months during which people feel very benevolent, he said.

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