Vol XXVIII    NO. 280        Sunday        25 December 2005 
          Man dies after both kidneys are 'stolen'
-NEW DELHI: A 30-year-old man who had both kidneys surgically removed in what has been an illicit harvesting of his organs died in a hospital yesterday in eastern India after struggling for three weeks to survive, officials said.

Surendra Kumar, a motorised rickshaw driver, underwent surgery for an appendicitis earlier this month at a private hospital in Mahnar, a small town in Bihar state.

Within days, he developed complications and was brought to Patna, the state capital, for treatment where doctors in the government hospital found that both his kidneys had been removed, police officer Preeta Verma said.

Yesterday, Kumar died in the Patna hospital.

A privately-run television channel reported that doctors had recommended a kidney transplant for Kumar but the procedure could not be carried out due to lack of facilities in the small town.

Police are investigating whether the surgeon and his three assistants - who cannot be located - had links to the organ transplant mafia that operates in several Indian cities.

"We have not yet found any links but it is clear that the surgeon was a quack running an illegal hospital," said Verma.

Removal of both kidneys had raised the suspicion that it might not be a case of incompetence or negligence, the officer added.

"If it were incompetence, one kidney would be lost, not both," said the officer.

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