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Two Omanis arrested for buying organs illegally in Pakistan

Clinic in Lahore had been running an illegal organ trafficking ring for years without authorities’ knowledge

Gulf News

Muscat: Pakistani authorities have arrested two Omanis who had bought kidneys from an illegal clinic in Lahore on Monday which was raided a few days back, Pakistani local media reported.

Four Pakistanis, including two doctors were also arrested following the raid. The Assistant Director, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Jameel Ahmad Khan, told local media that FIA raided a clinic which was being illegally run for organ transplants in a private housing society of Lahore. The clinic had been functioning there for years but no one had suspected that the facility was illegal.

“Both of the doctors admitted to scouting Gulf countries for clients through an agent stationed in Oman since 2009. They along with their other accomplices are operating in Rawalpindi and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. They would charge an average Rs6 million (Dh210,192) to Rs7m from a foreign client (recipient of a kidney) and pay a just over Rs100,000 to a [poor] donor,” he said. The two Omanis, who were taken into custody, had paid seven million rupees ($70,000) each for a kidney, he added. FIA has also interrogated two other Omani nationals and seized their passports for further investigation. Gulf News called Oman’s Embassy in Islamabad via phone, but officials were not available for comment.

Organs can only be donated by close relatives in Pakistan. Buying and selling them is illegal. A chronic shortage of organs for transplant has fuelled a black market, with acute poverty forcing some Pakistanis to sell their kidneys to eke out a living. Many Omanis desperate for organ transplants have been travelling outside the country to buy organs on the black market from Pakistan, India, Egypt and Thailand due to the shortage of the organs in the country.

Last year, more than 40 Omanis died while waiting for a kidney to be made available for transplant.

The country is facing a major shortage in organs, including kidneys, heart, lungs, eyes and pancreas, according to the Ministry of Health.