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Police hunt for doctor in kidney-snatching ring

  • Story Highlights
  • Ring takes kidneys from poor in India for rich patients, police say
  • Raid on house outside New Delhi reveals operating room, police say
  • Alleged ringleader may have fled country
  • Operations to remove organs were done expertly, surgeon says
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From Sara Sidner and Tess Eastment
CNN
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NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Police in India have broken up what they call a global organ-trafficking scheme and are hunting its alleged mastermind, a doctor identified as Amit Kumar.

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An Indian man named Shakil says he was drugged and his kidney removed against his will.

Authorities Tuesday asked for the public's help in tracking down Kumar after a raid last week on a home in Gurgaon, a city near New Delhi.

Police characterized the scheme as an attempt to harvest kidneys from the poor and sell the organs to wealthy patients.

At least one doctor was arrested, police said, and at least two patients -- one from Greece and the other from the United States -- initially were detained before being freed.

Gurgaon Police Commissioner Mahendra Lal said the doctor confessed the ring carried out about 500 transplants over about 10 years in five states across India. Video Watch as victims show their surgical scars »

Lal said four doctors as well as nurses, medical technicians and others were involved in the scheme, working out of a house in Gurgaon with an operating theater.

Police also said they discovered a worldwide roster of 48 people waiting for transplants.

Kumar, who also uses the alias Dr. Santosh Rameshwar Raut, may not be in India anymore, police said.

Under Indian law, the sale of human organs is illegal, but the country has a flourishing black market. There have long been reports of poor Indians selling their kidneys and even giving them up by force in some cases.

The problem is extensive enough for the Indian Health Ministry to be developing new legislation that lawmakers hope will stop the illegal organ trade.

Shakil, a 28-year-old recovering from a transplant in a Gurgaon hospital, winced as he described how his kidney was forcibly removed.

"Two armed guards took me to another room. They took blood samples ... forced me onto a stretcher and then they gave me an injection," he said. "When I woke up, I had pain in my waist and I was dizzy."

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Shakil and others in nearby hospital beds said a man approached them with promises of well-paying jobs. Instead, he brought them to the house in Gurgaon, they said.

"The surgery has been done professionally, there's no doubt, by someone who is qualified and seems to know his job," said Sanjay Narula, a surgeon who is caring for the victims now. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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