The untold stories

Despite the publicity generated by Netcare’s complicity in the cash-for-kidneys scheme, the issue of the welfare of those who took part in the Israeli Transplant Programme, and in particular those who had their kidneys harvested, continues to be ignored.

With a deal having been struck with Netcare and further deals likely to be struck with the doctors and transplant coordinators, the issue of what protocols, if any, were in place to follow up on the recovery of those who took part in the scheme might not come under scrutiny in court.

Netcare has declined to comment on what post-operative care was provided. But given the sheer volume of the illegal operations that were performed, medical complications were bound to have arisen in some cases, according to Johan Wessels, a medical forensic consultant who was appointed by the department of health to assist in the investigations.

The critical issue, said Wessels, was whether complications were properly dealt with, or patients were simply sent back home.

The M&G has been told of one instance where an Israeli recipient Tzipora Burzin, died, allegedly as a result of post-operative complications.


Prosecutor Robin Palmer, referred queries about Burzin’s case to the investigating officer, Captain Louis Helberg. “If the trial proceeds, we will hear such evidence,” said Helberg.

Both men refused to comment on allegations that a mother, husband and daughter each sold a kidney through the programme. In another case a young Brazilian surfer allegedly sold one of his kidneys to buy a surfboard.

In another alleged case doctors faced a dilemma on discovering in the operating theatre that a donor had one “bad” kidney and one good one, which allegedly resulted in an argument over which organ to harvest for transplanting. — Roving Reporters

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