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Death shadow on kidney racket

London, Sept. 1 (PTI): The cash-for-kidney scandal deepened as the UK medical council decided to probe the conduct of a second Indian doctor accused of being involved in the human organs trade.

The medical council has scheduled an inquiry after a report said today that a patient died buying a kidney from a donor in India.

Darshan Sandhu, 69, reportedly consulted Jarnail Singh, a coventry general practitioner, before flying to Jalandhar for a kidney operation. He died after contracting an infection, the Sunday Times of London reported today.

Amarjit Singh, who donated his kidney to Sandhu, was tracked down by the newspaper last March to the village of Raikot in Punjab.

He said he had decided to sell his kidney after reading an advertisement in a Punjabi newspaper, which said: “I need a donor who can save my life.”

According to Amarjit, Sandhu promised him that if he donated a kidney he would take him to the UK and find him a good job.

“My family desperately needed money,” said Amarjit, who was earning a little over Rs 1,000 a month and living with three generations of his family in a few rooms around a narrow yard.

Singh said he advised his patient against an operation. However, according to the newspaper, in taped interviews with the undercover report in March 2001, he gave detailed information on obtaining kidneys from donors in the developing nations.

Sandhu, a businessman, had spent seven years on dialysis before deciding to have a transplant from a paid donor.

The evidence against Singh was obtained during a Sunday Times investigation into the cash for kidneys trade. Last week, as a result of the published article, Bhagat Singh Makkar, 62, a London doctor, was found guilty of professional misconduct and his name was struck off the medical register.

He had offered to help set up a similar operation for the father of an undercover reporter.

The trade in human organs from living donors was outlawed in India in 1994, but it is estimated that about 2,000 people still sell their kidneys in the country each year. Many who buy the organs are affluent westerners who fly in for operations, often set up by doctors acting as brokers for the deals.

According to the report, Singh gave advice to the undercover reporter on buying a kidney from India and said 2,000 pounds was the going rate for such an organ.

“Although it’s a lot of money for them, they are doing an extraordinary thing,” he said. “They are generally manual workers. Just imagine if something goes wrong with the remaining kidney, they will be crippled for life.” He did not ask payment for his services.

There are 5,000 people waiting for kidney transplants in Britain and many become so desperate that they resort to buying an organ.

Sandhu was among a number of patients from the Midlands known to have flown to India, the report said.

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