The Health Ministry is likely to investigate claims made by Indian media that three Colombo-based private hospitals were involved in an international kidney racket.

Director of the Health Ministry’s Private Hospital Development Unit, Dr. Kanthi Ariyaratne said if there was credible information regarding such a racket involving Sri Lankan private hospitals, the ministry would definitely launch its own probe. There was a strict criterion in place on authorizing kidney transplants in the country. All kidney transplants, whether they involved locals or foreigners, have to be authorized by the Health Ministry, she noted.

Dr. Ariyaratne said there were seven private hospitals that conduct kidney transplants and they conduct transplants on both locals and foreigners. According to the criteria in place, both the donor and recipient must be of the same nationality, otherwise, a transplant will not be authorized, she explained.

She said that all documents sent to the unit requesting for kidney transplants state that the donor was donating his/her kidney purely for altruistic purposes. “However, it is extremely difficult for us as a ministry to look into whether money has changed hands between donors and recipients in such transplants,” she pointed out. Nevertheless, the ministry can and will probe private hospitals if there are allegations that they were directly involved in a kidney racket, Dr. Ariyaratne stated, pointing out that the ministry conducted a probe after similar allegations surfaced about 1 ½ years ago over some private hospitals.

Indian authorities last week arrested a 22-year-old hotel management student from Hyderabad who had allegedly acted as an ‘agent’ of an international kidney racket.