• 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
Isis suspect charged with scouting Berlin attack sites
Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Thursday they had brought charges against a 19-year-old Syrian man accused of having scouted targets in Berlin for a potential attack by the Isis terror group.

Berlin Holocaust memorial could not be built now: creator
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The architect of the Berlin Holocaust memorial has said that, if he tried to build the monument again today, it would not be possible due to rising xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States.

'Liberal' Germany stopping Europe's 'slide into barbarism'
Ian Kershaw. Photo: DPA

Europe is not slipping into the same dark tunnel of hate and nationalism that it did in the 1930s - mainly thanks to Germany - one of the continent's leading historians has said.

Eurowings strike to hit 40,000 passengers
Travelers impacted by the strike on Thursday wait at Cologne Bonn airport. Photo: DPA.

The day-long strike by a Eurowings cabin crew union is expected to impact some 40,000 passengers on Thursday as hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

Deutsche Bank reports surprise quarter billion profit
Photo: DPA

Troubled German lender Deutsche Bank reported Thursday a surprise €256-million profit in the third quarter, compared with a loss of more than six billion in the same period last year.

US 'warned Merkel' against Chinese takeover of tech firm
Aixtron HQ. Photo: DPA

The German government withdrew its approval for a Chinese firm to purchase Aixtron, which makes semiconductor equipment, after the US secret services raised security concerns, a German media report said Wednesday.

Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
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
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd