Organ transplant scandal shocks Germany | News | DW | 21.07.2012
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Organ transplant scandal shocks Germany

An organ transplant scandal that has shaken Germany's health system has officials looking for ways to prevent possible abuse in future. A doctor is suspected of taking money to help patients jump the queue.

Allegations that a German doctor accepted bribes to help patients waiting for organ transplants jump the queue have health officials looking for ways to rule out the possibility of such abuse of the system in future.

The doctor in question, a former head doctor at the university hospital in the northern city of Göttingen, is alleged to have changed the data on patients' files in at least 25 cases, helping them to receive transplants more quickly than would have otherwise been the case.

Public prosecutors in Braunschweig have launched an investigation to see whether there is enough evidence to bring bribery or other charges against the 45-year-old doctor, who is no longer employed by the hospital. The focus of the investigation is a Russian patient who allegedly paid the doctor to get a liver transplant ahead of others deemed to need transplants more urgently on medical grounds.

Germany is one of seven European countries in which the Dutch-based agency Eurotransplant is responsible for deciding which patients receive available donated organs. Such decisions are based on a list of criteria meant to determine which patient needs a transplant most urgently for medical reasons.

After the allegations came to light on Friday, German Health Minister Daniel Bahr called for a swift investigation to establish the facts of the case and promised that there would be “massive consequences” for anyone found to have committed an illegal act. He said the scandal must not be allowed to have a negative impact on the willingness of people to donate organs.

The case comes just weeks after the Bundestag passed a law designed to encourage more Germans to agree to donate their organs after they have passed away. Under the legislation, which is to come into force in November, people in Germany will be asked at least once during their lifetime to decide whether they want to donate their organs.

pfd/tj (AFP, dpa)