An eight-year old British girl of Indian descent was allegedly murdered by health care workers in India so they could harvest her organs, her grieving parents claim.
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, the mother and father of Gurkiren Kaur Loyal said staff-members at a clinic in Khanna, Punjab, in northwest India, gave the girl a mysterious injection for to treat a simple case of dehydration.
That injection killed her. Suspicious, the girl’s family protected her body to prevent anyone from stealing her organs. However, that measure proved futile -- after a post-mortem was conducted on the child, her major organs were removed, making it impossible to determine the actual cause of death.
It happened on Gurkiren’s first-ever visit to India.
"My baby was innocent and now I am devastated without her,” her mother Amrit Kaur Loyal said.
“Gurkiren was fine, she was chatting to us and planned to buy some gifts for her cousins. While we were talking an assistant came up carrying a pre-filled syringe and reached for the tube in her hand. I asked what was the injection for, but he gave me a blank look and injected the liquid into her.”
Amrit Kaur added that she knew they had killed her daughter.
The Loyals also claim that police and health officials in India made no effort to investigate the bizarre death.
Only after the body was flown home to England did the family realize her organs were missing.
Now, British lawmakers in Loyal’s native Birmingham are demanding answers from Indian authorities.
Birmingham councilor Narinder Kooner said she believes Gurkiren’s organs were harvested for wealthy transplant [patients in India.
"People with money pay to help their family members," she said. "We are trying to build a portfolio of other cases."
The Guardian reported that MP Shabana Mahmood, who represents the Loyals Birmingham-Ladywood constituency, wrote to the British Foreign Office asking it to petition Indian officials to return Gurkiren's organs
“This is a deeply shocking and devastating tragedy,” Mahmood said, according to The Daily Mail.
“Gurkiren's death, and the failure of the Indian authorities and the British High Commission to provide adequate support to the family, has added to their considerable distress - as has the appalling removal of all of her organs. It is imperative that we have the chance to independently establish the cause of death with the authorities in the UK.”
The trade of human organs – though illegal since 1994 – is believed to be widespread and highly lucrative in India.
In 2007, Ravindranath Seppan, of the Chennai Doctors' Association for Social Equality, declared that "India's rich are turning to India's poor to live longer."
Deutsche Presse-Agentur news agency reported that of the 90,000 or so children reported missing in Indian every year, many end up victims of organ traffickers.
The Guardian reported that sometimes the organ recipients are wealthy foreigners who cannot abide by long waiting lists in their native lands.
Kidneys, which are in great demand, may be purchased for as much as $200,000 from organ traffickers in India, Pakistan and China. In India, sometimes these kidneys are stolen or bought for as little as $1,000.
The “sellers” are typically very poor and desperate people.
"The illegal trade worldwide was falling back in about 2006-07 – there was a decrease in 'transplant tourism'," said Luc Noel, a doctor and official with the World Health Organization.
"The trade may well be increasing again. There have been recent signs that that may well be the case. There is a growing need for transplants and big profits to be made. It's ever growing, it's a constant struggle. The stakes are so big, the profit that can be made so huge, that the temptation is out there."
The problem in India is exacerbated by the fact that Indians are reluctant to donate their own organs, creating a huge shortage for legal transplants.
The Times of India reported that while Spain boasts 35.1 organ donors per million people, Britain has 27, USA has about 26, Canada, 14, and Australia, 11 – India has only 0.08 donors per million people.
Only about 10 percent of Indians who need organ transplants receive them annually.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.