The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) busted an illegal organ trade gang in Lahore on Saturday, lodging its first-ever case under the Human Organ Transplant Act (HOTA) against two doctors, two foreigners and two organ donors.
FIA Regional Director Punjab Dr Usman confirmed the arrests, adding that the suspects had been caught red-handed during a raid.
Separately on Sunday, the FIA arrested two more foreigners from a hotel in the city’s Gulberg area who were due to undergo organ transplant within the next couple of days.
Speaking to DawnNews, Dr Usman said the FIA had been trying to trace the gang suspected of involvement in the illegal organ trade for the past several months.
Acting on a tip-off, FIA officials along with other law enforcement personnel on Saturday night raided a house in Lahore’s EME Society ─ a gated and posh locality in the city ─ and found an illegal kidney transplant in progress.
The raiding team used the latest technology and sophisticated equipment to track down their desired location, Dr Usman said.
Narrating the events of the raid, Dr Usman said that when the raiding team entered the house, they found a man lying in a room who told them that he was an organ donor who had sold his kidney for Rs150,000 as he was poor and needed the money.
The gang allegedly kept the donor in the house for several days for medical purposes. The donor told the raiding team that doctors in another room were transplanting his kidney into a foreigner, Dr Usman said.
The raiding team also caught two doctors identified as Dr Fawad and Dr Altamash from Lahore General Hospital in the other room in the middle of an operation on a patient.
Both doctors ceased the operation when they saw the FIA officials, but were asked to complete the procedure by the FIA officials for the sake of the patient. Both doctors however, due to the pressure, were unable to complete the surgery, the FIA official said.
Dr Usman also disclosed that one of the arrested doctors, Dr Altamash, is the general secretary of the Young Doctors Association (YDA).
FIA officials immediately called ambulances and shifted all four patients to Mayo Hospital for medical aid, whereas both doctors were sent to the FIA’s Lahore office for further investigation.
Medical instruments recovered from the raid site will be sent to Islamabad for DNA and tissue testing, officials at the FIA said.
After initial investigation, FIA said the suspects had been involved in the illegal business of human organ transplantation for the last several years, and most of their clients were foreigners, particularly from the Middle East.
FIA officials claimed that the accused doctors, with the help of middlemen, used to arrange for the provision of kidneys by exploiting the poor by purchasing their kidneys at a low price and selling them to foreigners for exorbitant amounts in dollars.
The gang has already undertaken several illegal kidney transplants in the past by setting up small operation theatres in rented houses in posh localities, the FIA officials added.
Teams have been constituted to arrest agents and other suspects involved in the illegal business.