Ministry looks into Cambodia kidney scandal

Ministry looks into Cambodia kidney scandal

The Thai Public Health Ministry is looking into a report published in The Cambodia Daily about a Cambodian woman allegedly running an organ-transplant racket in which she reportedly persuades people to sell their kidney to patients in Thailand.

Dr Thares Karasnairaviwong, deputy director general of the Department of Health Service Support, said his office was cross-checking information about kidney transplants with the 26 hospitals that are allowed to conduct organ transplants. These hospitals are registered with the Thai Red Cross Society's Organ Donation Centre.

Initial inquiries with a private hospital mentioned in the report did not uncover the names of any patients requiring a kidney transplant, Thares said.

Thares said his office would seek assistance from the Anti-Human Trafficking Police Division and the Thai Foreign Ministry to help cross-check the name list with Cambodia. If the allegations are found to be true, the authorities would have to see if the kidney donations followed the requirements set by the Medical Council, he added.

Thares's comment came after he discussed the matter with the Organ Donation Centre, the Medical Council of Thailand and the Consumer Protection Police Division yesterday.

Department of Health Service Support director general Dr Boonreung Trireungwarawat said kidney-transplant surgery was not easy and doctors had to adhere to many conditions and laws. He added that doctors can only perform transplant surgery at an authorised medical facility and the kidney donor can only be a blood relative or a spouse of over three years.

The Cambodia Daily reported on July 3 that Yem Azisah, 29, who goes by the name Sinuon, has been arrested as has her stepfather, Nhem Phalla, 40, who is believed to have helped her acquire fake identities for the kidney donors.

The two have been charged with human trafficking and fraud. Srinuon allegedly preyed on the desperate, brokering the price of the organ between the patient and seller for a commission.

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