Pakistan officials arrest gang in spinal fluid scam
Pakistan police have arrested a gang accused of extracting spinal fluid from victims, officials said on Tuesday, the latest case involving the country's notorious medical black market.
Police in Punjab province's eastern Hafizabad district arrested five suspects after being tipped off by relatives of a woman victim, who was told the procedure was needed for a programme which offers free wedding dowries.
Officials suspect the fluid was being sold on the black market to be used in bone marrow transplants.
"They confessed to extracting the spinal cord fluid from at least 10 women in the area and selling it to a cleaner at a local government hospital, who has also been detained," Abdul Majeed, an investigator with the Hafizabad police department, told AFP.
Another police officer, Muhammad Imran, confirmed the incident.
"Further investigation is underway," Majeed said.
The top-selling Urdu-language newspaper, Jang, said the accused had extracted fluid from at least 90 impoverished women who were left disabled by the procedure.
Pakistan is infamous for illegal kidney transplants that have attracted customers from across the world.
Last year authorities in Lahore arrested a group of medics for performing illegal kidney transplants for two Oman nationals.
Organs can only be donated by close relatives in Pakistan and buying and selling them is illegal.