Organ transplant in India is regulated by the  Transplantation of Human Organs Act of 1994. In India, organs can be harvested and transplated from dead bodies of donors who had consented in their lifetime or their close relatives have consented after their death. Organs can be donated by living people under specific conditions – that the person is a close relative or is brain dead and so on. Selling of organs for donation is illegal. However, given how important it can be to obtain an organ for one who needs it to survive, as well as the widespread poverty and desperation in the country, it is not surprising that there are rackets involving unscrupulous doctors and hospitals where sales of organs from strangers result in transplants. With own life at stake, it is not surprising that people needing donation and who can afford the money are often tempted to purchase organs illegally in order to survive. Needless to say, this is risky business for doctors and hospitals as they would be liable to be arrested and their licences revoked and the widespread need of health services in India makes taking such risks to obtain money unnecessary.

Aadhaar now makes this process easier. Sivanagamalleswar Rao was admitted to Vedanta Hospital in Guntur after both his kidneys failed. When the hospital insisted that only living relatives could donate the organ, his friend K Babu arranged for one Madavath Venkat Naik who was a tribal to sell him a kidney for 4 lakh rupees. An Aadhaar card was then forged for Madavath Venkat Naik by the name of Ravuri Ravi that would seem suitable as the same caste as the patient in order to present him as a relative and allow for the transplant.

The police are not sure whether more such transplants have taken place and this one only came to light because the transaction failed. There could be an organ transplant racket being facilitated by creating fake Aadhaar cards and present donors selling organs as relatives to get around the law.




Vidyut is a commentator on socio-political issues with a keen understanding of tech and policy. She has been observing and commenting on Aadhaar since 2010 from a perspective of human rights, democracy and technological robustness.

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