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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
GP - 'no problem' to arrange transplant
Dr Bhagat Makkar attended the GMC hearing
Dr Bhagat Makkar attended the GMC hearing
A GP is alleged to have said it would be "no problem" to arrange a kidney transplant from a live donor.

Dr Bhagat Singh Makkar, 62, from south London, is appearing before the professional conduct committee of the General Medical Council.

He denies allegations of professional misconduct and says he was entrapped by undercover journalists who taped conversations with Dr Makkar at his Lewisham surgery and on the phone.

He is alleged to have told the journalists he would be able to obtain a kidney for the man's father in exchange for a fee.

Transcripts of the tapes, which were partly in Punjabi, show Dr Makkar did not actually agree to the transaction.


The case against the doctor consists and depends upon almost exclusively the tape recordings

Bradley Martin, GMC
However, he makes it clear he is aware of how the procedure might take place and that he knows a hospital in India where it might happen.

The committee will consider whether Dr Makkar has broken GMC guidelines and laws banning trading in live organs.

Tapes

Bradley Martin, representing the GMC, said: "It is not alleged that the doctor actually arranged for a transplant to take place or for a kidney to be donated.

"The case against the doctor consists and depends upon almost exclusively the tape recordings between the doctor and the journalist."

The GMC hearing heard that Dr Makkar believed he was talking to the son of a man that needed the kidney transplant and his friend.

Charles Foster, defending the GP, said his client was a victim of entrapment by the journalists.

"There can be no doubt that their evidence was obtained by a trick.

"This was commercial journalists acting for commercial papers."

The journalist who taped the conversations, Paul Samrai of the Sunday Times, briefly gave evidence to the GMC hearing.

He said the doctor had been "very helpful and very willing to assist in the arrangement".

Mr Samrai told the GMC he had been given Dr Makkar's details by a hospital in Jalandhar, northern India, which allegedly carried out live donor transplants.

In the tape of the meeting at the surgery, Dr Makkar is asked if he can arrange a kidney transplant, and replies with the words: "Yeah. I can get it done."

Organ shortage

Dr Makkar, who worked as a GP in Lewisham, south London, was suspended from the medical register last December as the GMC pursued its enquires.

The doctor will have the opportunity to contest the allegations that he took part in, or at least encouraged the trade in human organs during the three day hearing.

The sale of organs was banned in the UK under the 1989 Human Organs Transplant Act.

It can be difficult for Asian patients to find a donor because there is a shortage of suitable organs,.

Some patients decide to travel abroad for transplants, but surgeons here say many suffer complications on their return.

Sue Sutherland, chief executive of UK Transplant, told the BBC: "We have around 5,000 people waiting for a kidney at the moment of which 16% are from an Asian background.

"It's ideal if you can have a donor from the same ethnic group, but sadly only 1% of donors each year come from the Asian population."

The hearing continues.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Karen Allen
"All the evidence hinges on a covert recording"
See also:

07 Jun 02 | Health
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