Los Angeles hospital lies, discriminates for Saudi liver transplant patient

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Monday, October 3, 2005

St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, a large organ transplantation center, reports that a low priority Saudi liver transplant patient received improper priority, and the actions were concealed.

Hospital President Gus Valdespino confirmed that hospital staff members falsified documents several times to cover up the maneuver, pretending that the transplant was for a patient who was near the top of the regional waiting list, when the Saudi patient was 52nd on the state's liver transplant list.

Priority is believed to have been granted because the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia would pay 25% to 30% more for the operation than U.S. insurance companies would have paid. The medical community views giving preference to one patient for nonmedical reasons as "totally unconscionable," according to Dr. Douglas Hanto, of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

The National Organ Network permits a maximum of 5% of donated organs to go to foreign nations. According to records, St. Vincent provided about 8% of its organs to foreign nationals.