• Germany edition
 
Doctor 'cheated' to get patients on organ list
Photo: DPA

Doctor 'cheated' to get patients on organ list

Published: 20 Jul 2012 10:51 GMT+02:00
Updated: 20 Jul 2012 10:51 GMT+02:00

A meeting of the German Transplantation Society (DGT) this week discussed what one top official said was the worst case of corruption he had ever heard of – it is thought at least 25 patients were pushed up the organ transplant lists.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Friday that although 25 liver transplantation cases from the Göttingen University Hospital are being examined, more files remain that have not yet been checked.

Hans Lilie, criminal law professor at Halle University, who chairs the standing commission on organ transplantation at the German Medical Association, told the paper that those at the meeting had been very emotional when they realized how many cases were suspect.

He had always been able to reassure potential donors and their families that the matter was always dealt with in a fair manner in Germany, he said. This would no longer be the case.

It is the worst case he had ever heard of, said Lilie.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung said the trick was a simple one. Doctors would simply make the chosen patient look sicker on paper than they actually were. Those with liver problems were often given invented kidney problems as well, putting them – on paper – at greater risk, and thus bumping them up the donor organ waiting list.

Lilie said this would have created a longer wait for those patients who were already high up the list. Whether they got an organ in time, or whether some may have died as a result of having to wait for longer, would be subject to further investigations, he said.

It would be very difficult to prove such an allegation, said Axel Rahmel, medical director of Eurotransplant, the eight-country transplantation agency. He said the delay would also work its way down the waiting list. “It’s possible that the long waiting time did not affect patients from one to 14, but probably patient 15,” he told the paper.

The main suspect at Göttingen hospital is said to have manipulated patient files in several ways, but often left enough inconsistencies for this to be noticed on examination.

He is now the subject of a criminal investigation by the Braunschweig state prosecutor for a number of suspected offences including corruption. Flats have already been raided and files seized.

Spokeswoman Serena Stamer told the paper that whether he deliberately manipulated files and if he took money illegally remained subjects for the investigation. The man in question has not commented and colleagues at the hospital do not know where he is.

Until he took over as head transplantation doctor at the hospital hardly any liver transplantations were carried out there – but he pushed the rate up to around 50 a year, which is a lot for Germany, the paper said.

Experts have ruled out the idea that he could have been alone in the corruption. “It is certain that it was not one person alone,” said Lilie. Initial investigations also suggest that money was paid by patients directly to doctors – to such a degree that in one case the commission made a formal complaint of organ trafficking.

The doctor was removed from his post as soon as suspicion was raised against him, the hospital said.

And Eurotransplant has introduced new rules which link a referring doctor’s name to his or her recommendation of a place on the organ waiting list.

Yet the Süddeutsche Zeitung also reported that the doctor concerned had got into trouble in 2005 while working at a Bavarian university hospital, when he took a Eurotransplant liver to a patient in Jordan – having said it was destined for a patient in Regensburg.

A criminal investigation against him was halted and after he promised not to do such a thing again, he was allowed to continue working – and got a promotion to the Göttingen hospital.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

13:15 July 20, 2012 by n230099
I worry more about the medical industry providing a level of care based on the value of the organs of the patient. When the value of the organs becomes such that the patient is worth more for the "parts" we're all in trouble.
14:24 July 20, 2012 by Frenchone
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
18:20 July 20, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
So what now? Take the organs back? I am sure this is not the only corruption happening in the overpriced German Health Industry. How much drugs do doctors subscribe needlessly in order to prop up the pharmaceutical industry? More money in sick people than people getting naturally healthy long-term.
20:50 July 20, 2012 by AlexUkr
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
Today's headlines
'German' hand grenades paraded by Isis in Syria
A screen grab from a jihadist video showing the grenades. Photo: DPA

'German' hand grenades paraded by Isis in Syria

The German military was on Wednesday investigating reports that Bundeswehr hand grenades have fallen into the hands of the Islamic State (Isis) terrorist group after a video appearing to show captured weapons surfaced on the Internet. READ  

North braces for storms and floods
Early signs of flooding at the Hamburg fish market on Wednesday morning.

North braces for storms and floods

The remnants of hurricane Gonzalo have drifted across the Atlantic and are now threatening North German cities with flooding, forecasters warned on Wednesday. READ  

Indian schools drop German teaching
Indian pupils enrolled in German classes prepare for Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's visit to their school. Photo: DPA

Indian schools drop German teaching

Thousands of children in India will no longer be taught German after the country's education ministry allowed a contract to lapse. READ  

Syria-bound US teens stopped in Frankfurt
A passenger plane landing at Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

Syria-bound US teens stopped in Frankfurt

Three teenage girls from Colorado were arrested by German police at Frankfurt airport after running away from home, reportedly on their way to join Isis in Syria. READ  

Tourists stranded on cable car over Rhine
Tuesday night's rescue operation Photo: DPA

Tourists stranded on cable car over Rhine

Six people, including a family and two American tourists, were left dangling 40 metres in the air over the Rhine for hours late on Tuesday after Cologne's cable car came to a halt. READ  

7:1! Bayern celebrate record in Rome
Arjen Robben celebrates the first goal against AS Roma. Photo: DPA

7:1! Bayern celebrate record in Rome

Bayern Munich were elated on Tuesday night after seuring a 7-1 victory against Roma in their group stage Champions League clash. READ  

Nazi U-boat wreck found off US coast
A preserved World War II U-Boat on the beach near Kiel, Germany. Photo: DPA

Nazi U-boat wreck found off US coast

A World War II German U-boat and an American merchant vessel it sank in battle have been found deep in the ocean off the coast of North Carolina, officials said on Tuesday. READ  

Fourth time lucky for free Berlin WiFi?
Coming soon? Photo: DPA

Fourth time lucky for free Berlin WiFi?

Berlin's bid to set up a free city-wide wireless network has so far come to nothing. But city bosses are now trying for a fourth time - and hope to have the project running next year. READ  

Opinion
Do German unions have too much power?
Lufthansa passengers rush to change their flights at Frankfurt Airport on Monday. Photo: DPA

Do German unions have too much power?

Germany's pilots and train drivers are taking it in turns to bring the country to a standstill with strikes that have cost the economy tens of millions of euros in the last two weeks. Are unions abusing their power or standing up for their rights? READ  

Older workers can have extra days off, court says
Photo: Workers in a German shoe factory. Photo: DPA

Older workers can have extra days off, court says

Older workers in Germany are allowed more time off than younger ones, a court ruled on Tuesday, saying the difference was not discriminatory. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Robbers blow up Berlin bank
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Sponsored Article
International School on the Rhine: a legacy
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,488
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd