Eight people, including a doctor, have been arrested in Pakistan for illegally removing kidneys from people for transplantation to wealthy clients. Authorities say some donors did not consent to the operation.
The chief minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Mohsin Nakvi, said at a press conference Sunday that the kidney removals were being performed by Dr. Fawad Mukhtar at his home, often without the consent of the donor patients. According to Nakva, a car mechanic by profession assisted the doctor during surgeries; he also helped attract patients to the hospital for surgeries.
They performed at least 328 surgeries, and at least three donors died as a result. According to the investigation, the arrested individuals sold kidneys for 10 million rupees ($120,000) to foreign patients and three million rupees to Pakistani patients. Mokhsin Nakvi reported that Dr. Mukhtar has been arrested five times, but each time he has been released with the help of corrupt police officers.
The criminal group operated mainly in the city of Lahore, population 13 million, in the town of Taxila near the capital, Islamabad, and in the Pakistani part of Kashmir. “The number of illegal surgeries and transplants is actually much higher. These are just the ones we know for sure,” Nakvi said.
The trafficking of human organs in Pakistan was banned by law in 2010. Hoping to stop the mass sale of organs abroad by donors themselves, doctors, and brokers, the authorities introduced harsh penalties: up to ten years in prison and huge fines. But it didn’t help: Organ trafficking continues to thrive in Pakistan, with its poor population and corrupt law enforcement.
In January, police in Punjab uncovered another gang of organ traffickers when they found a missing 14-year-old boy with a kidney removed in an underground operation.