Organ donation rackets luring poor women in Kerala

Organ donation rackets luring women from weak families in Kerala

Investigations launched by the police against the organ rackets earlier are still remaining inconclusive

Representative image. Credit: iStock photo

A government doctor in Kerala involved in verifying altruism in voluntary organ donation recently noticed that many women organ donors were from the same locality of Kollam district in south Kerala. As the doctor took the statement of one of the woman donors, she confided that she was making a sacrifice to save her economically weak family and many other women from the locality were also making such sacrifices.

Kerala is increasingly witnessing many such instances of women from financially weak backgrounds turning up for live organ donation, allegedly being wooed by the rackets involved in organ donation and forced by husbands.

In the latest instance, over 10 women in the coastal areas of Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram were learnt to have already donated their kidneys, while many more are in the pipeline. The other day a woman from the locality was even roughed up by her husband for disclosing to some other about her preparations to donate an organ.

Recently there were also reports that around 20 women from the same locality in the coastal areas of Alappuzha district had donated their kidneys from 2018 onwards.

Even as the Kerala State Human Rights Commission on Saturday ordered a police investigation into the suspected organ trafficking in the coastal areas of Thiruvananthapuram, similar investigations launched by the police against the organ rackets earlier are still remaining inconclusive.

Last year a preliminary inquiry by the Kerala police's Crime Branch found that organ trafficking rackets were thriving in the state. It was suspected that up to Rs 10 lakh and medical expenses were the offers for the donors, while the private hospitals were suspected of charging huge amounts from the recipients.

A detailed investigation was also launched into the racket.

The doctor who came across the unethical practices told DH that even as many cases were kept in abeyance for suspicions over altruism, the recipients approach a court and manage to get orders in their favours using police reports and citing urgency.

The state has a mechanism for regulating cadaver organ transplants and a similar system was also mooted for a live organ transplant. But it was yet to become a reality.

A decline in the number of cadaver transplants over the last couple of years following an allegation of unethical practices in the sector was also considered to be a vitiating factor for the live organ trafficking rackets to flourish. As per the data available from the Kerala Network for Organ Sharing that managed the cadaver transplant, the total number of cadaver transplants in 2021 so far was 32, while it was 70 in 2020 and 55 in 2019.

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