Police in eastern Pakistan have busted an illegal organ harvesting ring, arresting eight people for surgically removing kidneys from hundreds of poor patients in need of transplants for the rich and powerful, Pakistan authorities said on Monday. A news story like out of worst horror movies, yet this is not a movie and also not just another goose bumps flick, this story is real and terrifying.
The alleged gang leader, identified as “Dr. Fawad,” is accused of performing 328 surgeries on people to remove their kidneys and selling them to clients for up to 10 million Pakistani rupees ($34,000 US) apiece, said Mohsin Naqvi, Pakistan’s chief minister.
Fawad was reportedly assisted in the operations by an unnamed auto mechanic who administered anesthesia, Naqvi said. The chief minister said the gang lured patients from hospitals and privately performed surgeries in Taxila region, Lahore city and in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Fawad had previously been arrested five times but was released each time and was able to continue his operations, Naqvi said. Some of the patients whose organs were removed did not know that their kidney had been removed.
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Pakistani police has spent almost two months investigating the case after a man came forward saying one of the alleged gang members had convinced him to get private treatment. Harvested patient said, when he went to another doctor for further treatment, he was told that he had one kidney missing. Naqvi said he is working with Punjab’s police inspector general to strengthen the country’s cyber laws so that advertisements for such illegal kidney transplants are banned online.
Pakistan banned the commercial trade in human organs in 2007, and a strengthened law in 2010 makes harvesting and trading organs punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 1 million rupees ($3,400 US). Before the law was implemented, Pakistan was a hub for organ trafficking for foreigners and wealthy Pakistanis seeking transplants, and the buying and selling of kidneys was a regular practice, with some impoverished Pakistanis selling their own kidneys to survive.
But the practice of organ harvesting continued in Pakistan despite the implementation of the law prohibiting such undergoing. Pakistani local media claims that illegal kidney transplants had returned in recent years and that this organ harvesting bust could potentially be the first not the last.