Pakistani authorities have busted a gang involved in the illegal transplant of kidneys to wealthy foreigners, a practice flourishing in the impoverished nation amid an economic crisis.
Police and health department rangers raided a hidden clinic in Rawalpindi near Islamabad on Monday night, arresting 10 people, including doctors and nurses.
Hassan Akhtar, head of a Punjab Human Organ and Transplant Authority team, said three suspected donors and two recipients, one from Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, were also arrested.
Mr Akhtar, who led the team, said further raids were conducted on Tuesday to arrest the remaining network members.
The network included several people who would go to villages and small towns in the central province of Punjab and convince people to sell kidneys to wealthy foreigners, mostly from Arab countries and some from Europe.
Wealthy foreign buyers pay up to $50,000 for a kidney transplant, but the bulk of the money goes to intermediaries, and the donor hardly gets around $3,000, according to a nephrologist in Islamabad.
Pakistan enacted a law to control the illegal sale of body organs in 2010 that envisaged up to 10 years in jail and a fine for transplants other than at established hospitals.
However, experts said the law had not controlled the practice due to corruption, rising poverty, and established criminal gangs working beyond the country’s borders.