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London - Surgeons Banned From Using NHS Organs in Private Transplants

Published on: July 27, 2009 05:02 PM
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London - Hospitals will be banned from using NHS organs in private transplant operations under new rules being drawn up by the Government.

The move follows a Mail on Sunday investigation last year which found that surgeons were making up to £20,000 a time by operating on private patients from abroad, despite a critical shortage of organs to save the lives of desperately sick people on the British transplant waiting list.

A wide-ranging four-month review by an influential committee of experts has concluded the practice should stop because it is undermining public confidence in the national transplant service.

The reform will be welcomed by patient groups, who say financial considerations should play no role in deciding who receives a donor organ.

Three people die in this country every day while waiting for a transplant. Yet hundreds of British organs have been given to overseas patients in private operations at NHS hospitals – 50 in the past two years alone.

The review was led by Elisabeth Buggins, chairman of West Midlands Strategic Health Authority and a former head of the Government’s Organ Donation Task Force.


She was brought in by then Health Secretary Alan Johnson after this newspaper revealed that one leading hospital, King’s College in London, was giving NHS livers to private Greek and Cypriot patients under a deal struck with their governments, even though there was a waiting list of 400 Britons in critical need of livers.

Five such operations at King’s in a 12-month period were performed by Professor Nigel Heaton, footballer George Best’s former transplant surgeon, earning him up to £100,000 on top of his NHS salary of around £200,000.

Between January 2003 and December 2007, 111 liver transplants were carried out across the country on European Union patients from outside Britain – 72 of them at King’s. Of those, 47 were from Greece or Cyprus.

Prof Heaton, 54, who lives in a £1million house in Beckenham, Kent, is a controversial figure.

In 2002, he was criticised over his decision to give George Best a liver transplant even though the alcoholic football star ignored warnings that his continued drinking was destroying his health. Best died from multiple organ failure three years after the operation.

Mrs Buggins began her review in March and has had confidential discussions with transplant surgeons and other experts to gain as wide a range of medical opinion as possible on what she has called a ‘complex and sensitive’ issue.

The Government is understood to have accepted her recommendations and Health Secretary Andy Burnham is expected to make an announcement this week.

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Read Comments (5)  —  Post Yours »


 Jul 27, 2009 at 04:16 PM NHS? Says:

For those of us in the Colonies, or otherwise outside Her Majesty's domain, NHS refers to the British National Health Service, the four publicly funded healthcare systems of the United Kingdom.


 Jul 27, 2009 at 05:27 PM Anonymous Says:

Who would want a British organ in them anyhow?


 Jul 28, 2009 at 07:14 AM Anonymous Says:

This can happen here too if Obama's healthcare scam is passed.


 Jul 28, 2009 at 08:39 AM A Frum MD Says:

The can and does take place here, albeit to a much lesser extent. Because of the strict enforcement of laws regarding trafficing of human organs. This is the precise reason Mr. Rosenbaum is not a saviour but a common criminal and deserves to be treated no differently than Bernie the Goniff. BTW not only can this happen if the Obama-nation's health plan is passed it WILL HAPPEN.


 Jul 28, 2009 at 09:59 AM Yehuda Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Who would want a British organ in them anyhow?

Trust me if c"v you needed one you would take it in a second.


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