New York doctor donated kidney to wife in 2001 and is now demanding an estimated $1.5m, attorney says
When his wife needed a kidney transplant, Dr Richard Batista gave her one of his, attorney Dominic Barbara said.
Now that Dawnell Batista has filed for a divorce, Richard Batista wants his kidney back as part of his settlement demand. Or, Barbara said today, his client wants the value of that kidney: An estimated $1.5m (£993,000).
The case is being heard in Supreme Court in Mineola, New York.
Barbara said his client, a 49-year-old doctor from Ronkonkoma who graduated from Cornell University Medical School in 1995, married Dawnell Batista on August 31 1990. The couple had three children, now ages 14, 11 and 8.
After she had two failed transplants, Barbara said, his client donated a kidney to his wife in an operation that took place at the University of Minnesota Medical Centre on June 18 2001. Richard Batista said his marriage at the time was on the rocks because of the strain of his wife's medical issues.
"My first priority was to save her life," Batista said at a news conference in Garden City. "The second bonus was to turn the marriage around."
Dawnell Batista, 44, of Massapequa, filed for divorce in July 2005, Barbara said.
Neither she nor her attorney, Douglas Rothkopf, of Garden City, could immediately be reached for comment. A receptionist at Rothkopf's office said he was in court.
Medical ethicists agreed that the case is a non-starter. Asked how likely it would be for the doctor to either get his kidney back or get money for it, Arthur Caplan at the University of Pennsylvania's Centre for Bioethics, put it as "somewhere between impossible and completely impossible".
First and foremost, said Robert Veatch, a medical ethicist at Georgetown University's Kennedy Institute of Ethics, "it's illegal for an organ to be exchanged for anything of value". Organs in the US may not be bought or sold. Donating an organ is a gift and legally "when you give something, you can't get it back", he said.
"It's her kidney now and ... taking the kidney out would mean she would have to go on dialysis or it would kill her," Veatch said.
Nor can you assign a subsequent monetary value to an organ, Caplan said. "There's nothing later [you can get] in terms of compensation if you regret your gift," he said.
What's more, no reputable surgeon would perform such a transplant and no court could compel a person to undergo an operation, he said.
From the Guardian.