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
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
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

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

    £47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker