Organ donation scandal: call for tough penalties

Organ donation scandal: call for tough penalties

"I am pursuing the idea that a laboratory physician should recheck the data sent to eurotransplant," the head of the standing commission on organ transplantation, hans lilie, told "welt" (saturday). A former doctor at gottingen university hospital is suspected of falsifying records to ensure that his own patients were given preference in receiving donor livers. According to information from the braunschweig public prosecutor’s office on saturday, the investigations against the 45-year-old could take months.

The medical director of the university hospital of essen and member of the ethics council, eckhard nagel, also spoke out in favor of a four-eye principle. He also suggested that there should be fewer transplant centers, which would be easier to inspect. The medical director of eurotransplant, axel rahmel, also called for stricter controls in the ZDF "heute-journal" television program.

The president of the organ procurement agency eurotransplant, bruno meiser, advocated random checks of transplant centers. "Every organ donated post-mortem is unique, an act of charity beyond the death of the donor," meiser told "welt am sonntag.". "We must handle this precious resource in accordance with the highest ethical principles"."

On the other hand, the president of the westphalia-lippe medical association, theodor windhorst, opposed the four-eyes principle. "That’s not favorable for some decisions, and it’s not always practically feasible," he told "welt.". Windhorst is also a member of the organ transplantation commission.

In a press release, windhorst called the organ donation scandal a "super gau" for people’s trust. Normally, criminal activities are ruled out when it comes to organ donation: "but the current shortage management of donated organs is now opening the door to criminal energy."

Meanwhile, gottingen hospital rejects accusations that it acted carelessly in choosing the doctor’s personnel. According to the "suddeutscher zeitung", the doctor had already been investigated in the past because he had brought a donor liver intended for the hospital in regensburg to jordan. Lilie had told "NDR info" that he was surprised that the doctor was employed in gottingen.

A spokesman for gottingen university medicine explained: "we did not know this, it was not apparent from the certificates or in any other way," he said. The university hospital reacted quickly after initial suspicions and suspended the doctor. In the meantime, a new transplant surgeon has taken up his work.

The clinic had already parted company with the doctor in december by means of a termination agreement. The reason was an anonymous tip to the german foundation for organ donation, according to which organs had been sold at the university hospital in gottingen. The clinic’s management had then called in the transplant surgeon. He was suspended from his duties in november.

The doctor never admitted the accusations, the hospital spokesman emphasized. The working relationship had been terminated because the trust had been shaken. He had not informed the clinic that he had spoken to the federal medical association about the matter, the spokesman said. The university hospital had subsequently examined all documents. "No irregular funds have flowed with us", he emphasized.

The braunschweig public prosecutor’s office, which is investigating allegations of bribery, does not expect a quick result. "I expect months", said the spokeswoman of the braunschweig public prosecutor’s office, serena stamer. Probably, experts had to be consulted for the clarification of factual questions in detail.

Federal minister of health daniel bahr (FDP) called for people not to be put off by the scandalous accusations of organ donation. "I appeal to the citizens not to draw any hasty conclusions from the accusations," he told the "welt am sunday". "Organ donation saves lives."

The chairman of the CDU state parliamentary group, bjorn thummler, emphasized that many seriously ill patients are dependent on donor organs. "We must not allow people to lose confidence in the system of organ allocation."

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