An internal inquiry launched following a Mumbai Mirror report has indicted a senior cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon and transplant expert of trespassing and illegally removing organs from a corpse at the government-run KEM Hospital.
On November 12, Mirror reported how Dr Jnanesh Thacker, a consultant with Hinduja Hospital, entered the KEM mortuary, where government doctors were performing a post-mortem on a 40-year-old accident victim, and removed the heart and lung. When the government doctors protested, he told them he was there in his capacity as an honorary doctor with another government-run hospital and that he had taken authorisation from their superiors. Unconvinced, the doctors lodged aprotest and an inquiry was commissioned.
Dr Shubhangi Parkar, academic dean, KEM, who conducted the inquiry has now said in her report that had Dr Thacker had no business being in the mortuary, and that his claim that he was teaching students was a lie. Dr Parkar said Dr Thacker’s claim that he was passing by and some student had called him to demonstrate some procedure was not true. Her report said not a single under-graduate student was there as claimed by Dr Thacker.
While resident doctors from the pathology department were around, none of them asked Dr Thacker to teach them anything, the report added. However, it is still not clear why Dr Thacker removed the organs. While Dr Parkar said it was not in her brief to find that out, Dr Thacker did not answer his phone despite repeated calls. In the report submitted to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and Hinduja Hospital, Dr Parkar rejected Dr Thacker’s claim that he had authorisation to enter the mortuary.
The report also said no student has come forward to testify that Dr Thacker was teaching them that day and eyewitnesses have corroborated that there were no students with Dr Thacker. “I have forwarded Dr Parkar’s inquiry report to Additional Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar for further action,” said Dr Sandhya Kamat, dean, KEM. “Our enquiry finds Dr Thacker guilty. Eyewitnesses have stated that Dr Thacker was inside the mortuary and removed organs from a body on which a post-mortem was being conducted in a medico-legal case.”
Dr Kamat said the report also debunks Dr Thacker’s claim that Dr Amita Joshi, professor, pathology department, KEM, had given him oral permission to visit the mortuary. “In her statement, Dr Joshi has said that she asked Dr Thacker to approach me for permission and that she never authorised him to go and dissect the body,” said Dr Kamat. “Our report concluded that Dr Thacker entered the mortuary room without any permission when a medico-legal post-mortem was going on.
As per government rules, nobody apart from forensic doctors can enter the mortuary when a post-mortem is going on. And it is clear that he was there, without any permission.” Dr Parkar, in her report, also said that the two doctors conducting the post-mortem, Drs. Ravindra Devkar and Poonam Verma, have confirmed in their statements that he removed organs. Finally, the report said that while Dr Thacker claimed he was an honorary doctor at the Sewri tuberculosis hospital, his stint had in fact ended in September.
Top surgeon accused of illegal autopsy, he says he was ‘teaching’
Dr Jnanesh Thacker from Hinduja allegedly removed a lung and heart from the body of an accident victim at KEM; hospital authorities said he wasn’t even authorised to enter the mortuary
Posted On Tuesday, November 13, 2012 Mumbai Mirror
Monday afternoon saw plenty of drama at Parel’s KEM Hospital, where one of the city’s top surgeons has been accused of illegally entering the mortuary and removing organs from a corpse.
Dr Jnanesh Thacker, consulting cardio thoracic surgeon at Hinduja Hospital, has been accused of opening up the body of a 40-year-old accident victim, and removing a lung and the heart, before he was ‘caught’ around 2.30 pm.
The hospital has submitted a complaint against Thacker to the dean, Dr Sandhya Kamat, but there has been no police complaint. The hospital also said Thacker may have opened up the body for “personal research”.
In his defence, Thacker said he had a meeting with a friend working at the KEM mortuary, and a few students there requested him to teach them some aspects of human anatomy dissection. “I wasn’t aware that the body was of an accident victim and a medicolegal case. I was merely trying to help the students,” he told this newspaper.
The KEM officials, including the dean, said no permissions were granted to Thacker to enter the mortuary, leave alone access the body which is classified as a medico-legal case.
Dr Ravindra Devkar, assistant professor, KEM Forensic Department, said he and his colleague were scheduled to conduct the autopsy on the body. “I was shocked when I saw Thacker inside the room. He had already removed a lung and the heart, and had begun dissecting the body,” he said. Devkar asked the hospital security to ensure Thacker was not allowed to leave the premises, and alerted other officials. “He didn’t have a piece of paper on him to prove that he was authorised to touch the body, leave alone opening it up,” Devkar said, “The equipment he used to open up the body didn’t belong to KEM.” Thacker said he was authorised to enter the mortuary by Dr Amita Joshi, head of the hospital’s Pathology Department. However, Joshi denied having issuing any permission, saying she didn’t have the authority to issue such sanctions.
“It’s a clear case of trespass,” said the KEM Forensic Department head, Dr Harish Pathak, “Thacker is a senior doctor who is well aware that no-one can enter the mortuary without permissions. We all are deeply offended by his actions, and have urged the dean to take action.”
Kamat said she would speak to the Hinduja Hospital director before deciding on action against Thacker.
“Even if he had approached me, I wouldn’t have allowed him inside the mortuary,” she said. “We are recording the statements of the eyewitnesses, and those who granted him access to the mortuary will not be spared either.”
Regarding Thacker’s claim that the students at KEM had requested him to help with dissection, Pathak said Thacker was “lying”. He said, “The students learn at the anatomy department, not in the mortuary. Besides, why would they learn about dissection from a cardiovascular thoracic surgeon?“