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EDITIONS
Monday, 14 October, 2002, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
GP 'suggested organ trade'
Organ box
The charges related to the trade of human organs
A Coventry GP offered to help a stranger travel to India for a kidney transplant from a live donor, the General Medical Council has heard.

Dr Jarnail Singh denies charges that he encouraged and participated in the trade of human organs from live donors - a practice that is banned in the UK.


My view was that he had the full knowledge of what we were proposing to do and was happy to assist in whatever capacity that he could.

Paul Samrai
If found guilty of serious professional misconduct, he faces being struck off the medical register.

A GMC disciplinary hearing was told on Monday that Dr Singh agreed in principle to help out two undercover journalists, who approached him for advice about how to arrange a live donor transplant.

The hearing heard that Dr Singh told the men - who were working for the Sunday Times - that he had helped others in a similar situation.

He even told them that it would cost 3,000 to secure an organ from a living donor.

Failed trip

The journalists approached Dr Singh after being told that he had arranged for one of his own patients, Darshan Singh, to go to India for a similar procedure.

Mr Singh, 69, travelled to the sub-contintent for surgery, but died after contracting an infection.

The GMC hearing was told how the journalists, Paul Samrai and Neville Thurlbeck, approached Dr Singh claiming that Mr Thurlbeck's father was dying and needed a transplant.

They claimed his condition was deteriorating rapidly and his son was willing to pay up to 25,000 for him to travel to India for the operation, the committee heard.

After a short telephone call the pair met Dr Singh the following day and discussed the possibility of going abroad for a live donor transplant.

Dr Singh took them through how much they would need to pay, the advantages of having the surgery in England if possible and how they could avoid the authorities to do so.

Many cases

He then indicated that he was aware of dozens of other cases a year and that he had acted as a facilitator in the past.

Opening the case against Dr Singh, Jeremy Roussak, counsel for the GMC, said: "Dr Singh answered all their questions, expressed no reservations, gave them no indication that what they were doing was illegal, unethical and dangerous."

When offered 5,000 to help arrange the operation, Dr Singh refused the money but gave the pair the impression he was happy to help in whatever way he could, the committee was told.

Giving evidence, Mr Samrai said: "My view was that he had the full knowledge of what we were proposing to do and was happy to assist in whatever capacity that he could."

Doctor's evidence

Dr Singh told the hearing he had refused to take on Mr Thurlbeck's father as a patient, and so was in no position to "faciliate" any trip to India.

Although he knew of many cases of people who had travelled for transplants from living donors, he denied admitting to offering active assistance.

Instead, he said he had simply offered friendly advice to two men who seemed determined to seek out a live donor, regardless of whether it was legal or not.

Six weeks ago a London GP, Dr Bhagat Singh Makkar, was struck off the medical register after boasting to a reporter that he could organise a kidney transplant in the UK or abroad for a fee.

The case was adjourned until Tuesday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Gill Higgins
"It is illegal...to advertise or promote this practice"
See also:

30 Aug 02 | Health
30 Aug 02 | Health
07 Jun 02 | Health
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