A group had filed a complaint seeking to expose the fraud happening in the guise of collection of hair donated for cancer patients.

Does donated hair reach cancer patients Kerala group complains of a profit racket
news News Tuesday, November 07, 2017 - 07:15

A Kannur-based organisation had raised an alarm about the absence of checks on whether the hair donated by people was reaching the cancer patients it was intended for.

‘Orappady Kalakootayma’, a group that trains artists, had filed a complaint with the Superintendent of Police seeking to expose the fraud happening in the guise of collection of hair donated for cancer patients.

The organisation alleged that while 17 inches (43 cm) of hair is needed to make a wig for a person to cover their head, some hair donation camps collected only six inches of hair (15 cm).

The group has been engaged in hair donation to make wigs for chemotherapy patients under its platform ‘Sneha Kesham’. The members themselves donate hair, apart from contributions from others, and so far they claim to have handed over wigs to 50 cancer patients.

“A minimum of 12 inches of hair is needed to make a decent wig. For women, we cut 17 inches of hair to make a shoulder length wig. But in most of the hair donation camps, only six inches of hair is cut. Where does all this hair, which is not sufficient enough to make wigs, go? From our understanding of the industry, we suspect that the ‘hair fixing’ mafia is behind this. Six-inch hair can be used only for hair weaving procedures and to make wigs for the entertainment industry’s use,” Jiju Orappady, Programme Coordinator of the Kalakootayma told TNM.

The group in its complaint has also alleged that some camps were willfully fraudulent.

“Some of the organisers claimed that they had conducted the camps in association with Amala Hospital, Thrissur. But when we contacted the hospital, they said they were not aware of any such camps and that they hadn’t authorised anyone to conduct them. One good outcome after we raised the issue is that the number of camps have reduced in Kozhikode, Kannur and Thrissur districts. But till date there is no response from the police,” he said.

‘Orappady Kalakootayma’ sends the collected hair to Sargakshetra Cultural and Charitable Trust based in Changanassery in Kottayam, which in turn sends the hair to a wig manufacturing firm in the state.

“In September, a hair donation camp was conducted at a school in Kannur, where six-inch hair was cut from the participants. We came to know about it from a newspaper report. Through our complaint, we want the police to find out where does all the extra hair go,” said Mohan Karakkeel, Coordinator of Sneha Kesham.

Joseph Varghese, Public Relations Officer, Amala Hospital asserted that the hospital hadn’t tied up with anyone nor authorised anyone to conduct hair donation camps. “Individuals directly come to us to donate hair. We send the hair to a wig manufacturing company and they in turn make wigs for free. Enough hair is donated, and every month we conduct a programme in which the wigs are handed over to the patients,” he said.

Father Alex Praikalam of Sargakshetra said the question to be raised is whether all the hair donated in the name of cancer patients is actually converted into wigs for them. “We don’t promote hair donation camps now as enough hair is being donated by individuals. We receive hair from all over India. It has become a trend now. We have been conducting cancer awareness camps for college and school students across the state. The students also donate hair,” he said.

“We send the hair to a wig-maker and then courier the manufactured wigs to patients. The total expenses for making a wig, including courier charges, is Rs 4,000,” said Father Alex.  

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