11 November 2010

'Wealthy Israelis' behind illegal organ transplants in South Africa. NHS provider involved.

 In an online BBC article headline today "S African hospital group pleads guilty in organ scandal" we read:

"South Africa's largest private medical group has pleaded guilty to performing illegal kidney transplant operations at one of its hospitals.
It follows a seven-year investigation into transplants carried out at the facility in Durban.
The medical group Netcare admitted that children were recruited to donate their organs, and said the hospital had wrongly profited from the operations."

Who were the donors? According to the BBC it was "(p)oor donors, often from Brazil".

And where did the organs go? Again according to the BBC: "These were then given to those in need, who were often wealthy Israelis."

Note too how the BBC is extremely light on details, such as how much donors were paid.

Note how the BBC manages to get "wealthy Israelis" and "those in need" into the same sentence, and notice the word 'mostly':

In fact ALL those who benefited from  the illegal organs were Israelis, and that the organs were 'donated by poor Brazilians, Romanians and Israelis', some of whom were paid as little as $6,000 while recipients paid $100,000 and the "Mercury newspaper reported on September 16 that Netcare allegedly made more than R22 million from the operations", equivalent to £2 million sterling

Israelis have a history of being involved in organ trafficking scandals. As far back as 2001 Organ Watch called Israel a "pariah" in the organ transplant world. It was only in April this year (2010) that we read about another organ trafficking ring: "Police smash Israeli organ-trafficking ring", in which people were offered up to $100,000 for a kidney, were flown to 'poor countries' like Azerbaijan or the Phillipines, had their kidneys removed but who never received the money.

We also can see how the corporation behind all this, Netcare, has managed to escape scot-free, by a manoevre in which its own hospital declared itself guilty: "Netcare spokeswoman Martina Nicholson said Tuesday that the state had withdrawn charges after the hospital pleaded guilty to accepting payments for kidney donors and removing kidneys from minors."

Lets have a look at the original charges brought against Netcare: "Netcare, its head, Richard Friedland, Durban's St Augustine's Hospital, two transplant unit staff and an Israeli interpreter were yesterday served with summons on 11 charges. These include 109 counts of fraud, 21 counts of forgery, 21 counts of uttering, 109 counts of serious assault, and charges of contravening the Human Tissues Act and the Prevention of Organised Crime Act."

Here the BBC is more forthcoming:

"Several of those directly involved pleaded guilty at the time, but Netcare - which runs more than 50 hospitals in South Africa - had until now refused to accept responsibility.
Our correspondent says things began to change when prosecutors brought charges against Netcare's chief executive and the company made a plea bargain.
In return for those charges being dropped, Netcare accepted that some of its employees had known that the kidney donors and recipients had not been related.
It acknowledged that "payments must have been made to the donors for their kidneys, and that certain of the kidney donors were minors at the time that their kidneys were removed".
"Certain employees participated in these illegalities, and (the hospital) wrongly benefited from the proceeds," it said."

Netcare also has a profitable UK operation running UK private hospitals and NHS 'services'. The Netcare website itself tells us:
"The United Kingdom business provides the following key services:
  • Private hospital services through BMI, operating 56 acute care private patient hospitals with 2,907 registered beds, 152 operating theatres and 37 pharmacies.
  • NHS services through Netcare UK, an established independent service provider to the NHS, operating surgical centres, ophthalmic units (specialising in cataract operations) and an NHS Walk-in Centre in Leeds."
 In fact, the Netcare business in the UK goes under the umbrella name of General Healthcare Group, which it acquired in 2006. Their " primary businesses are BMI Healthcare and Netcare UK." They are also "a major shareholder in CARE Fertility...Netcare UK provides specialised clinical services for the NHS"

"At 31 March 2007, Netcare managed 122 private hospitals and clinics, equipped with more than 12,100 beds. For the year ended 30 September 2006, Netcare had consolidated revenue of £799 million, operating profit of £108 million, total assets of £3,476 billion and a market capitalisation of £1,518 million. "

The company also has a joke page called "Corporate social responsibilty", where it says pretty much nothing about Corporate Social Responsibility, which is itself an oxymoron. Organ traffickers socially responsible? Pull the other one....

This is creeping privatisation of the UK health system to organ traffickers!!!

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