• Germany's news in English

Doctor 'cheated' to get patients on organ list

The Local · 20 Jul 2012, 10:51

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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.

Story continues below…

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)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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
Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd