Doctor 'offered to help arrange organ from live donor'

A British GP appeared before the General Medical Council yesterday accused of offering to obtain an organ from a live donor.

Dr Bhagat Makkar is alleged to have offered to arrange a kidney from a living donor, explaining that "there are plenty of poor people in these [Indian] cities", unaware that he was being secretly taped.

The doctor, it was claimed yesterday, not only wanted payment but failed to point out the dangers of unrelated donors.

In an evening "private" meeting at his Lewisham surgery, the 62-year-old GP allegedly told a man he thought was the son of a kidney patient: "No problem, I can fix that for you. Do you want it done here, do you want it done in Germany or you want it done in India?"

Laughing as he explained that England was cheaper than Germany, The doctor added: "Asian donors are available here, I find them. I know the consultant who is in Guy's hospital."

Unaware that he was talking to undercover journalist Paul Samrai, Dr Makkar handed over promotional literature for his new company.

"That's the company. We are going to bring it in the market, Health International Service Ltd. That's our brochure," he said. He explained that he was retiring that day and planned to spend his time managing operations.

Despite an international ban on the sale of body parts, the black market is booming in countries such as India, where poverty is endemic.

With 7,000 patients waiting for kidney transplants in Britain and only 3,000 operations a year, a falling number of available cadaver organs and the greater success rate of living donors is driving a trade in wealthy, "donation tourists".

In the UK it is banned under the Human Organ Transplant Act 1989, as well as GMC guidelines, which state that donations should be made altruistically, rather than commercially to protect the "vulnerable and the poor" from exploitation.

Bradley Martin, barrister for the GMC, said yesterday that Dr Makkar had been guilty of serious professional misconduct by offering to arrange kidney transplants in the UK or overseas using a living donor, "with payment, including payment for the living donor to you".

The Professional Conduct Committee was told that Mr Samrai, aided by another journalist, had asked a kidney hospital in Jalandhar, northern India, for a British GP who could arrange a transplant for his father and was given Dr Makkar's contact details.

Following a brief phone call, the doctor agreed to meet the two journalists at his south London surgery.

Mr Samrai used a high powered tape recorder hidden in a bag to record the conversation. The following day he called the GP again – this time from the offices of the Sunday Times – and, it is alleged, discussed a fee for a living donor, pointing out that it would be much higher in the UK.

Yesterday the committee listened to a tape of the original meeting as the men discussed the deal in English and Punjabi. The doctor, Mr Samrai told the hearing, was "very helpful, very willing".

In the recording he could be heard saying: "It's who you know, where you know. In this field I'm working from last one year ... finding the good deals, where is the cheapest." Later he is heard to say: "In Bombay there are loads of poor people, in Punjab, they will say 'here comes another rich one, let's fleece him'."

However, Charles Foster, for Dr Makkar, insisted that the GMC's translation of the Punjabi text was inaccurate.

He says his client, who denies the charges, did meet with the journalist and speak by phone but did not ask for money.

Mr Foster said Dr Makkar had said to the journalist: "Don't pay me anything and there is not need to pay the hospital either. Once everything is finished we will pay the hospital from our fund and the donor and any other expenses and then the bill will come to you at home."

Organ donation between unrelated people is only permitted in this country under strict guidelines, regulated by the Unrelated Live Transplant Regulatory Authority. The legislation does not allow payment under any circumstances.

Dr Makkar, the son of a doctor, gained his medical qualifications in Rajasthan in 1969. Two years later he moved to the UK.

Mr Foster claimed his client had been entrapped by the journalist, who later passed his information on to the Sunday Times for publication. "What these journalists wanted was not a triumph of truth, justice and righteousness, it was a colourful story that would maximise their circulation," he said.

Furthermore, Mr Foster claimed, Dr Makkar's right to privacy, under Section 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, had been breached.

The hearing, which is expected to last three days, continues.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Environmental Account Manager - Remote Working

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Support / IT Sales / Graduate Sales / Trainee

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has now arisen for a Sale...

    Recruitment Genius: Administration Manager

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued growth an exce...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Manager

    £37000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable