Foreigners Got Kidneys Ahead of Americans

Associated Press

One of the world's leading organ transplant hospitals is revising its policy for selecting kidney recipients following a report that 61 foreigners received kidneys ahead of Americans who were already on a waiting list.

Presbyterian-University Hospital's new policy will be accompanied by a new "oversight process to ensure it's followed in the future," said Daniel Stickler, hospital president and chief executive officer.

Dr. Henry Bahnson, the hospital's chief of surgery, recently conceded that the policy of "locals first, hard-to-match patients second and then foreign nationals" may not have been followed in all cases during the last few years.

Bahnson said doctors circumvented the policy for "compassionate reasons," which he said might include the fact that a patient was a member of the Saudi Royal Family, a foreigner running short on money to stay in Pittsburgh or a doctor or the child of a doctor.

John Morris of Pittsburgh, whose daughter-in-law is awaiting a kidney transplant, said he was "burned up."

"To say that being Arab royalty or kids of foreign doctors were compassionate reasons for doing them ahead of Americans is just putting salt in our wounds," Morris said.

"My daughter-in-law has been on the list for 18 months," Morris said. "I'm not a doctor, but does that make her any less needy because I worked 27 years in the coal mines and not some operating room?"

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