Pakistan police bust illegal organ harvesting ring

Pakistan police bust illegal organ harvesting ring
From Government of Punjab via X

Law enforcement authorities in eastern Pakistan have dismantled an illegal organ harvesting ring, apprehending eight individuals accused of surgically extracting kidneys from hundreds of patients.

The organs were allegedly sold to wealthy clients in need of transplants, said Pakistan’s Punjab province’s Chief Minister, Mohsin Naqvi, on Monday 2nd October 2023.

The alleged ringleader, identified as “Dr. Fawad,” stands accused of conducting 328 kidney removal surgeries, with each organ fetching prices as high as 10 million Pakistani rupees ($34,000) on the black market, according to Naqvi.

Dr. Fawad purportedly collaborated with an unnamed car mechanic who administered anaesthesia during the illicit surgeries.

The modus operandi of the criminal gang involved enticing patients away from legitimate hospitals and performing the surgeries privately in locations including Taxila, Lahore, and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

They were able to do this in Kashmir because there is no law regarding kidney transplants, so it was easier for them to carry out the operations there.

Mohsin Naqvi, Chief Minister of Punjab

While three deaths linked to the illegal organ trade have been confirmed, authorities are still working to confirm additional cases. “There must be more operations that must have been carried out; the number is the only ones we’ve confirmed,” Naqvi added.

Dr. Fawad had previously been arrested five times but managed to secure his release on each occasion, allowing him to continue his illicit operations, Naqvi disclosed.

Furthermore, some patients were oblivious that their kidneys had been removed.

The investigation into the case spanned nearly two months, sparked by a man who came forward after being convinced by one of the alleged gang members to seek private medical treatment.

Upon consulting another doctor for subsequent treatment, he was informed that he no longer possessed one of his kidneys.

Naqvi is now collaborating with the Inspector General of Police of Punjab to strengthen Pakistan’s cyber laws, with the aim of banning online advertisements for illegal kidney transplants. “Our entire focus is to track other gangs who are operating like this,” he declared.

In 2007, Pakistan took a firm stance against the commercial trade of human organs.

In 2010, a strengthened law was enacted, making organ harvesting and trafficking punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 1 million rupees ($3,400).

Before these legislative measures, Pakistan was a hub for the organ trade, catering to foreigners and affluent Pakistanis in need of transplants.

The buying and selling of kidneys were commonplace, with some impoverished Pakistanis resorting to selling their organs for survival.

Despite the legal crackdown, reports suggest that illegal kidney transplants have resurged in recent years.