Thai hospitals `selling kidneys'

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The Independent Online
THAILAND'S MEDICAL Council is investigating reports that private hospitals in Bangkok have been operating an underground trade in kidneys.

Relatives of patients have accused Vachiraprakan Hospital, near Bangkok, of tricking them into signing away their loved ones' organs which are then sold to wealthy patients. The relatives believed they were only giving consent for doctors to operate. Funeral expenses, medical bills and even education fees for family members were paid by the hospital, they said.

The hospital admitted yesterday that families did receive money, but insisted the payments came from the recipients of the donated organs as an expression of gratitude.

Paibul Jitprapai, the president of the Organ Transplant Association of Thailand, said: "The hospitals have been dealing directly with those families who are most in need of money. After deals have been struck the kidneys are removed from the dead and given to rich patients." Wealthy kidney patients are thought to pay up to pounds 10,000 for transplants.