The government has dropped the charges against 13 hospitals after a four month investigation into the kidney racket citing “the welfare of the patients” waiting for organ transplants as the reason. In the last two years over 2000 the hospitals have preformed over 2000 illegal kidney transplants and have colluded with criminal gangs of organ brokers to steal organs from the state’s poor and destitute. I have been covering the story for WIRED News and in this blog since the story first broke and this seems an appropriate coda for my investigation in light of the rampant corruption and lack of ethics that permeates ever corner of the medical administration here.

The Directorate of Medical Services, the organization in charge of the investigation, is trying what it calls a “humanitarian approach” that favors wealthy people with renal failure over the poor who must sacrifice their own health for another person’s treatment.

Dropping the charges means opening up the flood gates to more illegal surgeries as the DMS has effectively admitted that it will not enforce the rule of law even under extreme instances of medical negligence. The DMS has let the worst offenders completely off the hook (Devaki Hospital, and Madurai Meenakshi Mission Hospital) after asking them to abide by the rules in the future.

This excerpt from the Indian Express yesterday says it all:

“The hospitals had committed only simple mistakes like discrepancies in forms and HLA matching. We have kept in mind the suffering of patients waiting for transplants. Many of them are on dialysis ans need to undergo surgery. The hospitals have agreed to follow the rules and regulations. They will submit an undertaking and obey the rules [in the future]” an official said. (My guess is that the official was Bava Fathurudeen who I have written about earlier)

This is an outright lie that goes to show exactly how high the corruption rises in the administration. A month ago I went to the police and told them I had hard evidence on Devaki hospital that they were preforming illegal kidney transplants. I had uncovered records of the procedure with signatures of doctors (Thiagarajan and Reddy) on one person in Ernavoor and if I searched a little more I could easily have uncovered hundreds of similar documents. However when I went to the police station the Assistant Commissioner only looked at me blankly and said “we are not interested in prosecuting the case.”

For Bava Fathurudeen to say that hospitals have only made “simple mistakes” is a bald faced like. The hospitals have knowingly been providing illegal services and have gotten the government to tow the line with them. It’s already an established fact that the ethic board that approves transplants knows that 90% of the donors who apply for permission to undergo a transplant are unrelated and being paid by brokers.

So in light of the now defacto legalization of unrelated live-donor transplants why doesn’t the government take the more radical step and push for formal legalization? Call me crazy, but I don’t think that dozens of hospitals who have been actively pursing criminal transplants are going to stop business as usual after only a slap on their wrists. The honor system isn’t going to keep things in check.