HealthThe Stethoscope

A harvest of kidneys in India

There are stories making the rounds about unscrupulous medical activities in India.

One: You may have read how an 11 year old boy had his kidney removed for black market sale. Apparently, the kid had been taken to India for what was likely a simple surgical intervention. However, hours and hours went by before the father was allowed to see the child. It turns out later and as they found out, that the kidney had been harvested, stolen while the kid was under sedation.

Two: A woman was promised marriage, love and forever by a suitor who lavished her with money and gifts. He also asked her to do a comprehensive blood test to be sure she was suitable and compatible with him. Months after the marriage, her family found her decomposed body: without the heart, liver and kidneys. These organs are very profitable on the black market. The blood tests were to find out if her organs were compatible. Turns out she was perfect, not for marriage, but for harvesting.

Three: The news services previously reported how an entire village was raided by unscrupulous people buying kidneys in India. For harvesting their kidneys, each of the villagers received $45 (about N15, 000). Once the victims were under the influence of drugs, they removed their kidneys and sold them to wealthy patients from America and Europe. The criminals apparently told the villagers that the kidneys would grow back in a few months.
But, you know kidneys do not grow back, don’t you?

Kidneys don’t grow like kidney beans. Image courtesy of Google images.

The kidney cabal: There are now organised cabals, including doctors looking for people to sell their kidneys in India. Poor labourers are a major target for the organised kidney racket. They lure victims with the promise of jobs. They promise them money to donate a kidney (as much as $3, 000). Once you are in the grasps of these deceitful persons, they remove and sell your kidney in the black market for as much as $85, 000. A bountiful harvest!

Medical Tourism: Unsuspecting Nigerians travelling to India for medical tourism also belong to this vulnerable group. A Senator told me recently about his clansman that lost a kidney in India. He travelled to India for medical tourism and entered into the trap of the kidney thieves. Apparently, the Indian doctors had removed one of his kidneys while performing some surgery on his abdomen. I understand that when the victim found this out, he returned to India to confront the doctors.

An enemy within: You must understand that only not seedy hospitals but also popular hospitals in India have been involved in this kind of practice. Though you receive compensation, no amount of money can pay for the misery of failure of the only remaining kidney. Of course, most people who sell their kidneys do not yet appreciate fully the ramification of this grave loss. The health risks are significant. From anaemia to hypertension, bone loss and need for dialysis.
Just too many health problems come with kidney failure.
There are accompanying problems travelling to India for medical tourism. However, if you have to go, you have to go. Just be very careful and go with a friend or relative. But, not the one who sourced the hospital for you.

This is important: Many foreign hospitals advertising for patients in Nigeria use agents who may even be relatives of the sick. They convert these people to ‘business associates’ who will get a percentage of what you pay regardless of the outcome. So, many have become charlatans, who prey on your ill health, and your misfortunes to make money. They promote foreign hospitals in glowing terms as if they own those hospitals.
Of course, it is only a source of income for them with you as the guinea pig.
Doctors are guilty too. Some Nigerian doctors refer patients abroad for pecuniary gains. Some will even offer to follow you to India at your expense, but mostly to make sure they get their percentage cut behind your back. They push care abroad while being oblivious that one can obtain similar care and good outcomes in many hospitals in Nigeria.

Sharp practice: A relative of a colleague with money to burn went to India 3 years ago for a routine medical check-up, with his wife. After his check-up he was advised that he needed to have his gallbladder removed. His wife was advised that she needed cataract surgery done. They both refused.
You see, these were people perfectly healthy before leaving Nigeria. Hey, if you have to go to India, be sure to return with your organs. Remember, the Indians may not be playing fair as the only currency they know is dollars!

My advice: Look inwards first and search for a good hospital locally. With local treatment, you can have members of your family in close attendance, eat your preferred food and have easier and cheaper follow up.
You will also keep your organs.

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