Unscrupulous Medical Tourism Company Racket Unearthed
Gurgaon, an affluent suburb of New Delhi, India, is known more for its high rise malls and new-found BPO wealth than for health vacations. Yet this suburb has recently made global healthcare headlines with the unearthing of a kidney transplant racket. The kingpin of the racket was one Amit Kumar who, last heard of, was absconding with an Interpol red alert issued in his name. The scam is almost too outrageous to be true. Dozens of doctors are reportedly involved, and most of the sophisticated equipment was stored in a luxury home in Gurgaon where the surgeries were reportedly conducted. The organs were removed from laborers who were threatened at gunpoint and sedated before having one of their organs removed. Foreign patients fed up with interminable wait lists in their countries were the primary customers.
For the most part India has a favorable reputation for medical tourism. Low cost procedures (when compared to neighboring heavyweights like Thailand) along with an extensive list of procedures ranging from cataract surgery to liposuction feature on the country’s medical tourism menu. Health vacation companies have sprouted up offering services to foreigners who want to visit the country for low cost medical treatment. All perfectly legit, of course. A majority of the foreigners who visit do arrive through proper channels with the help of a reputed medical tourism company, having conducted proper research into the facilities and with all documentation in order. In the case of the kidney transplant racket, most of the patients seem to have been lax in their choice of doctors, or just plain desperate.
A Blot on the Health Vacation Industry
Organ transplantation is banned in India, but has never really fallen off the radar. It’s a blot on the country’s medical tourism image, and the sector would rather you focus on the Apollos and the Escorts of the country, rather than murky underhand organ dealings.
The lesson in this would be that whether you are looking for cataract surgery or a tummy tuck, vet your doctors, hospitals, and tourism operators well in advance. Surgeries done in homes are usually not a good indication of quality.