GMC allows organ trade doctor to practise again

A doctor who encouraged a dying man to have a kidney transplant from an unrelated live donor can return to practise as a GP next month, the General Medical Council ruled yesterday.

Dr Jarnail Singh, of Nuneaton, Warwickshire, was suspended for six months after he was found to have advised a prospective patient on how to arrange having a kidney transplant from a living and unrelated donor.

He had been secretly recorded by two undercover reporters discussing the possibility of having a donor flown to Britain, the GMC's professional conduct committee was told last October.

During the conversation at his surgery in Coventry in November 2000, Dr Singh told the pair they could expect to pay about £3,000 for an organ on the black market. He even told them how to avoid the UK authorities if planning to have a donor flown in from India.

Dr Singh failed to explain properly the dangers of having organ transplants from unrelated donors but, when offered £5,000 for the advice he had given, he refused the cash.

Yesterday, a second panel ruled that Dr Singh should be allowed to practise when his suspension expired on 12 May. The committee chairwoman, Dr Bhanu Bhanumathi, said the panel had been pleased to hear how Dr Singh had adopted a "positive approach" to his period of suspension, which he said he had treated as an "educational sabbatical".

"In the circumstances, the committee has concluded that allowing you to resume practise would not compromise protection of the public," she said.

After Dr Singh's suspension, kidney specialists called for a debate on the sale of human organs for transplant. Professor Sir Graeme Catto, dean of the medical school at King's College London, said: "Although it is illegal and distasteful it is happening and there are people [in the medical establishment] who are looking to make the best of a bad bunch."