Turkish police cracked down on an international gang profiting from illegal organ transplants, Turkish media reported on Friday. Four suspects were detained, including three foreign nationals from Indonesia and India.
Broadcaster TRT Haber reported that the gang and their "customers" sought to arrange a transplant surgery at a private hospital in Istanbul. Acting upon a tip-off, police discovered that an Indonesian national contacted a gang based in India and made a deal for a kidney transplant in exchange for $37,000 (TL 548,463), of which $30,000 went to the gang members and the rest to the "donor." The gang found a donor in Indonesia and arranged for the donor and customer to travel to Turkey.
The investigation also revealed that the suspects went to lengths to avoid suspicion and made the donor and beneficiary look like relatives. They are accused of forging fake marriage certificates between the brother of the beneficiary and the donor. The investigation found the suspects had even forged "wedding" photos to persuade the ethics board in Turkey which oversees the organ transplant procedures. In line with Turkish law, an organ transplant from a donor not related to the recipient is required to be inspected by a medical ethics board.
The gang members are accused of two more illegal organ transplant surgeries in a span of four days at a privately run hospital in Istanbul earlier. Police sources quoted by TRT Haber said seven suspects were arrested in the past month in other operations against organs traffickers in Istanbul.
Turkey's advanced health care sector draws more and more health tourists to the country but it also attracts organ traffickers from other countries, seeking to arrange surgeries between their customers and donors at Turkish hospitals. In 2020, authorities busted a Turkish organ trafficking ring pairing Bulgarian nationals in need of transplants with fellow citizens.