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‪Mediheal Hospital Involved In Organ Trafficking, Evidence Shows

Investigations reveal exploitation of vulnerable donors, endangering their health and damaging Kenya’s medical reputation. Such practices undermine trust in voluntary organ donation, fostering a dangerous black market.

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Mediheal Hospital in Eldoret has been involved in alleged organ smuggling over unspecified period of time, a report has revealed.

The report commissioned by International Society of Nephrology and done under the Kenya Renal Association (KRA) exposes an alleged complex syndicate in which the hospital is being accused of engagement in unethical transplant activities, involving the sale of kidneys and transplant tourism that have violated international and local laws.

The report reveals how buyers from overseas were purchasing kidneys as low as Sh700,000.

The investigating committee say the probe was launched over complaints that raised serious ethical concerns.

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Investigations reveal exploitation of vulnerable donors, endangering their health and damaging Kenya’s medical reputation. Such practices undermine trust in voluntary organ donation, fostering a dangerous black market.

“This is the association said is in direct violation of the World Health Organization resolutions, the Declaration of Istanbul, and Kenya’s Health Act of 2017, which prohibits organ trade.” the report reads.

Evidence

The committee has accused the hospital of damaging the county’s reputation by involvement in the unethical practices and taking advantage of the poor members of the public.

“Evidence gathered over the past two years from donor testimonies and recipient accounts suggests significant ethical breaches, including exploitation of vulnerable donors from local communities. This has not only endangered the health of both donors and recipients but has also damaged the reputation of Kenya’s medical community internationally.” reads the report seen by Kenya Insights.

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The association emphasizes on both physical and psychological well-being of the donors.

“Kidney donors play an essential role in transplantation, receiving no physical benefits and relying solely on the psychological and spiritual satisfaction of aiding another. Ethical handling and extensive pre-and post-operative care are crucial fo ensuring their health and well-being.”

In condemning Mediheal, the association has raised alarm over diminishing trust between donors and practitioners that could arise from unethical practices like that of Mediheal.

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“Unethical practices undermine the trust in voluntary donation, leading to a decrease in willing donors and increasing the costs associated with organ transplants. This fosters a harmful black market for organs, with potential risks including human trafficking and violence.”

Report further claims that the transplants are being done at the hospital ‘under the watch of relevant ministry officials’ and has called on the Government to intervene. “The issue of illegal kidney transplants has been a significant and troubling problem, stemming from a complex interplay of poverty, lack of regulation and exploitation. Vulnerable populations, particularly those from impoverished backgrounds, are often targeted by organ trafficking networks,” notes the report.

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Report further states that these networks deceive or coerce individuals into selling their kidneys, often for a fraction of the potential market value.  Operations frequently occur under unsafe conditions, posing severe health risks to the donors, it notes.

Report indicates that the trade is fueled by the high demand for kidney transplants and the shortage of legally available organs.

“Inadequate legal frameworks and corruption within certain segments of the medical community allow this illicit activity to persist,” it says.

The report claims the kidneys are shipped overseas where they are sold for as much as Sh4 million.

Suspend Mediheal

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Committee has made five recommendations to the CEOs of the Kenya Blood and Transplant Authority and Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Council including;

  1. Suspend Mediheal Hospital’s license pending a full investigation.
  2. Suspend the licenses of all medical personnel involved and initiate disciplinary actions.
  3. Review and potentially revise the regulatory role of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council concerning Mediheal Hospital.
  4. Direct the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to expedite legal actions against individuals involved in illegal transplant activities.
  5. Publicize the findings and recommendations of the Kenya Blood Transfusion and Transplant Services report.

Commitment

The Kenya Renal Association, along with other medical bodies has reiterated commitment to uphold ethical transplant practices and offers continued support fo victims of these unethical practices, ensuring their health and privacy.

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The committee has called for immediate and decisive actions to eliminate these unethical practices as evidenced by Mediheal to protect the integrity of kidney transplantation in Kenya and ensure the safety and well-being of all patients and donors involved.

The report seen by Kenya Insights has been signed by Kenya Renal Association (KRA) Dr. Jonathan Wala, Kenya Association of urological Surgeons/KAUS/Dr. Patick Mburugua, Kenya Association of Physicians (KAP) Dr. Erick Njenga and Renal/ Partients Society of Kenya (RPSK) Mr. John Gikonyo.

Mishra’s woes

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The hospital which is associated with the immediate former Kesses Member of Parliament Dr. Swarup Mishra has been clouded with endless woes that has seen it shutdown many of its branches across the country including the Eldoret branch that served as its main branch amid financial crisis.

An auction slated for July 2, 2024 by Eldoret-based Jomuki Auctioneers lists four prime properties owned by Dr Mishra and his wife under Mediheal Group Limited, including 50 acres of land in Ngeria, Uasin Gishu county, and two acres in Elgon View Estate, as well as the land that housed his former Constituency Development Fund (CDF) offices while he served as Kesses MP.

The properties have been put up for sale due to multi-million loan arrears owed to banks by the businessman-turned-politician who runs the once vibrant Mediheal Group of hospitals with branches in parts of the country, including the Mediheal Eldoret Fertility Centre.

Last year, the High Court issued an injunction restraining the sale of the politician’s prime properties in Eldoret town over a Sh61 million loan arrears. This came after the former MP, his wife Pallavi Rajthan and their hospital, Mediheal Diagnostics and Fertility Centre, sued Legacy Auctioneer Services and Commercial International Bank (CIB) Kenya Limited.

Fall of Mediheal

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During the visit by the Parliamentary Committee on Health to the Mediheal facility, the management attributed the facility’s failure to the government’s withdrawal of medical coverage and the State’s non-payment of NHIF funds to the hospital for no apparent reason.

It emerged that since 2021, the facility had received about Sh1.7 billion from NHIF in the form of claims.

“We have checked the hospital’s records and we have not found any discrepancies. We feel sorry for this hospital and we will write our report and table it in Parliament,” said the chairperson of the parliamentary committee, Dr Robert Pukose, during the visit.

The team was touring selected health facilities to assess whether some were being paid fraudulently by NHIF, following reports that showed some were colluding with the health insurer to make fraudulent claims.

The Mediheal Group of Hospitals has five state-of-the-art facilities in Eldoret, Nakuru and Nairobi, and outreach centres in Kisumu and Kakamega. There were plans to open more facilities in other towns such as Naivasha as part of an expansion strategy.

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Mishras’ Eldoret facility was the first to open under the Mediheal group of hospitals, becoming operational in December 2004, and had been expanding slowly until the recent financial difficulties.

By 2015, the owners had established more than three facilities offering general medicine and other specialities, including IVF and kidney transplants. By then, the facility had performed more than 300 kidney transplants.

Mediheal’s financial problems began two years ago when some insurance companies stopped covering teachers, police officers and other civil servants who sought medical treatment at its facilities, without informing them of the reasons.


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