The internal organs of a British girl who died while vacationing in India were not sold on the black market, doctors at the hospital where her body was taken said Thursday, as they pledged to solve the mystery over her death.
Gurkiren Kaur, 8
Gurkiren Kaur, 8, was missing most of her internal organs when her body was returned to the UK, according to her parents who feared she may have been the victim of the illegal trade in human body parts.
Doctors had promised not to remove her organs, her parents said Tuesday, telling reporters that attempts to get information had been frustrated by medical officials in the Punjab region.
Gurkiren died on April 2, moments after a doctor at a private clinic treating her for dehydration gave her an injection, her family said.
Shabana Mahmood, a member of parliament in the girl’s home city of Birmingham, England, has raised what she called the “deeply suspicious circumstances” of the case with Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague.
Dr. Surinder Oberoi, head of forensic medicine and toxicology at the Government Medical College in Patiala, said Thursday that the organs had been removed and sent to various laboratories for analysis because the cause of death could not be conclusively established.
He dismissed fears the organs had been taken for sale as “false allegations” and said the parents’ comments were an attempt to “divert attention from the real cause,” which he believed was a “congenital heart defect for which she had previously undergone surgery.”
He said the final report on the Gurkiren’s death would be given to the family, but did not indicate whether the organs would be returned so that a second autopsy could be carried out by a British coroner.
Parents of an eight-year-old girl want an investigation after she died in a clinic in India and had her organs removed without them knowing. ITV's Mark Gough reports.
Gurkiren’s mother, Amrit, and father, Santokh, told ITV News on Tuesday that the clinic's doctor refused to tell them what had been in the injection.
Amrit, 50, a postal worker, said: "I said, ‘What is the injection for? She doesn't need an injection she just needs a saline drip for half an hour or 45 minutes.’ He didn't answer me at all he just gave me a blank look and totally ignored me and just inserted the needle into a syringe and as soon as he pushed it in her neck flipped backwards.
"Her eyes rolled over and she turned a grayish-whitish color. She just blinked twice and her mouth was left open."
Oberoi insisted that whatever was in the injection would be identified “in the chemical analysis” that came from laboratory reports on the organs.
The World Health Organization estimates that more than 106,000 organs were transplanted globally in 2010. That included about 10,000 kidneys that were illegally obtained, the agency said.
However, Art Caplan, co-chairman of a 2009 United Nations task force on organ trafficking, said Wednesday that the evidence in Gurkiren’s case did not point to organ theft.
Organ transplant is a complex effort that involves precise coordination to be successful. Blood and tissue types of both donor and recipient must match, the size of the organs must be compatible and the organs must be preserved after death.
Since Gurkiren was only taken to the hospital for autopsy four days after her death, the timeline of her case doesn’t suggest that any of that would have happened.
“I’m skeptical,” said Caplan, director of the division of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Whenever I see somebody say that somebody killed somebody for parts, I’m skeptical.”
In a statement, Britain’s Foreign Office said: "We can confirm the death of a British national in Punjab, India, on April 2. We are providing consular assistance in the case and cannot comment further."