India's Apollo Hospitals' operator rejects allegations of illegal kidney transplants

FILE PHOTO: Patients and their attendants are seen inside Apollo hospital in New Delhi

BENGALURU/HYDERABAD (Reuters) - (This Dec. 5 story has been corrected to clarify that the Telegraph report said that Apollo was embroiled in a 'cash for kidneys' racket and to remove reference to Apollo Hospitals Group enticing young villagers from Myanmar to sell their kidneys to rich patients around the world in paragraph 2)

India's Indraprastha Medical Corp, which manages two Apollo hospitals in the national capital of Delhi, said on Tuesday allegations regarding its involvement in illegal kidney transplants are false.

UK's Telegraph newspaper reported on Saturday that Apollo was embroiled in a "cash for kidneys" racket in which impoverished people from Myanmar were being enticed to sell their organs for profit.

The newspaper said it first learned of the racket through a case at the Indraprastha Apollo, which is the Apollo Hospitals Group's flagship hospital in Delhi.

Indraprastha Medical also operates the Apollo Hospital in Noida, which is part of the National Capital Region (NCR).

"The allegations made in the recent international media against IMCL are absolutely false, ill-informed and misleading," Indraprastha Medical said in a statement.

Apollo Hospitals Group, in response to a Reuters request for comment, said they agreed with IMCL's statement.

The Delhi government will initiate an investigation into the allegations, CNBC-TV 18 reported, citing sources.

Reuters could not independently verify CNBC's report.

"As part of corporate governance policy, IMCL has initiated an inquiry into the matter to delve into all aspects of the transplant process," IMCL said in a separate statement.

IMCL neither seeks unrelated donors nor its representatives are authorised or instructed to find unrelated donors for kidney patients, the company added.

IMCL earlier said its patients and donors undergo several medical tests, including genetic testing, as part of a transplant procedure.

Pritam Pal Singh, the Delhi government's media coordinator, told Reuters he was unaware of any such investigation at the moment, while Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for comment.

(This story has been corrected to clarify that the Telegraph report said that Apollo was embroiled in a 'cash for kidneys' racket and removes reference to Apollo Hospitals Group enticing young villagers from Myanmar to sell their kidneys to rich patients around the world in paragraph 2)

(Reporting by Kashish Tandon in Bengaluru, Rishika Sadam in Hyderabad and Shivam Patel in Delhi; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Sohini Goswami)