Police in Vietnam have carried out an investigation into an illegal kidney trade ring, arresting one member and discovering that some doctors in a hospital in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue were also involved in its operation.
Officers from the Criminal Police Department (C45) have been coordinating with police in Hanoi and Thua Thien-Hue, following the probe of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters in 2014, and affirmed that the ring consists of one group in Hanoi and three in the central province.
They have arrested one member of the ring, Nguyen Viet Dung, 34, who is from the northern city of Hai Phong.
In 2013, Dung and two other members, Le Thi Yen, 51, and her sister Le Thi Ha, 38, formed an illegal ring that acted as intermediaries between kidney sellers and buyers, according to officers.
Yen was the mastermind of the operation while Dung’s responsibility was to counterfeit documents and signatures to legalize the kidney transplants in Hue Central Hospital.
The ring members advertised themselves on the Internet as family relatives of a patient in need of a kidney.
Some of the men who had sold their kidneys to the ring were later asked to work for the group.
Kidney sellers, mostly young men living in poverty or heavily indebted, underwent different health checks and tests in several infirmaries in Hanoi, including Vietnam-Germany, Bach Mai, 103, and Medical University Hospital, before going for an operation to remove a kidney in Hue Central Hospital.
The suppliers received from VND110 million (US$4,888) to VND180 million ($7,999) for each of their kidneys while the gang was paid VND50 million ($2,222) per transplant as fees for their brokerage service and completion of necessary documents.
All expenses would be paid by the buyers, with the total amount reported as up to VND800 million ($35,552) per case.
On December 31, 2015, Colonel To Cao Lanh from C45 told Tuoi Tre that they had arrested Dung in Hanoi, who then admitted his unlawful act at the police department.
Police could only accuse Dung of forging documents as the trading of human kidneys has not been listed in the articles of the Penal Code, creating difficulty for the penalization of the suspect, officers added.
Assistance from some doctors
Statements from the sellers and recipients in over 20 cases showed that the ring members were abetted by some doctors and nurses in Hue Central Hospital.
T.D.C. from the north-central province of Thanh Hoa, who sold his kidney for VND150 million ($6,669) to H.T.L., recounted that Dung and his group had to pay some of the doctors VND15 million ($666) to VND20 million ($889) each for the operations to run smoothly.
L.’s husband added that he had to pay about VND15 million to Doctor T.A. and H., a nurse, to have necessary documents and procedures completed.
Another person from Thanh Hoa, N.V.Q., who received VND110 million ($4,890) in return for his organ, said that the family of the recipient had paid a total of approximately VND6 million ($226) to a doctor named A.T. to shorten the time it took for compulsory documents to be approved.
They also had to give VND40 million ($1,777) to an official of Hue Central Hospital to clear all legal problems in the kidney transplant and post-surgery treatment of the recipient, Q. stated.