Whether they were directly involved in the kidney racket or not, one thing is certain — the Hiranandani Hospital management continued to aid the racketeers even after the scam was busted.
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CEO Sujit Chatterjee cleared the transplant procedures without checking the credentials of the patients
For this reason, CEO Sujit Chatterjee and Medical Director Anurag Naik — who were arrested on Tuesday night — have been declared guilty of medical negligence in a report from the Directorate of Health Services (DHS).
Knowingly aided scam
The racket was busted on July 14, when the Powai police received a tip-off that a patient was trying to pass off a stranger as his wife so she could donate her kidney to him. The police stopped the operation midway, even as doctors were retrieving a kidney from the woman. Over the next few days, the state health department investigated the matter and submitted its report to the health ministry, while the Powai police conducted a parallel probe.
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Four days after the racket was busted, the officials went back to the hospital, and were shocked to see that the donor and recipient – Shobha Thakur and Brijkishore Jaiswal -- were housed in the same room, even though the hospital management was clearly aware that they were not husband and wife but participants in the kidney racket.
“On July 18, when we visited the hospital, we found that both the recipient and the donor were kept in a single room. This is negligence on the part of the hospital for knowingly keeping them in the same room after the racket had been busted,” said Dr Gauri Rathod, assistant director, DHS.
As per the Transplant of Human Organs Act, both the donor and the recipient should undergo the transplant procedure simultaneously, but the police discovered that even this rule was being flouted. “When a donor donates his or her kidney, it needs to be transplanted immediately to the recipient, but this was not being followed, leading to medical negligence,” said Rathod.
Furthermore, the incision made on the donor’s abdomen was also found to be unnecessarily large. “We had consulted with other experts who opined that the incision was bigger than required for any kidney transplant,” she added.
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But this is hardly the end, as both the police and the health department have trained their scanner on two to three other doctors who may be involved in the racket. “We are inquiring into the role of 2-3 more doctors from the hospital,” confirmed Dr Mohan Jadhav, director, DHS.
The police said they have scanned through three years of transplant records from the hospital and are yet to scan more. “Many kidneys have been transplanted in two years by Hiranandani Hospital. We are going through all the records, after which different FIRs will be registered against the accused,” said DCP Vinayak Deshmukh.
Licence at stake
The Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) might cancel the licences of the doctors found guilty in the racket. “Once the investigations are over, we might cancel the licences of all the doctors found guilty, as this is not only a violation of medical ethics, but also a criminal offence,” said a senior officer from the council.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Ashok Dudhe stated that the illegal transplants were carried out by forging documents for the kidney donors and buyers. These documents would then be sent to CEO Sujit Chatterjee, who passed them without verifying the credentials of the patients. The CEO and four others who were arrested on Tuesday were presented in court yesterday and remanded in police custody till August 13.