Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Our Friends, the Saudis

LA Hospital Halts Liver Tranplant Program
LOS ANGELES - One of California's largest organ transplant centers has suspended its liver program after determining that doctors improperly arranged a liver transplant for a man not among the highest-priority patients, officials said.

Staff at St. Vincent Medical Center then falsified documents to cover up the alleged wrongdoing, hospital President and Chief Executive Gus Valdespino told the Los Angeles Times in Tuesday's editions.

The case involves a Saudi national who was 52nd on a transplant list that covers much of Southern California and is based on who is sickest and who has been waiting longest. St. Vincent officials said the liver should have gone to a higher priority patient.

The transplant was done in 2003 and the Saudi Arabia Embassy paid $339,000 for the operation — up to 30 percent more than what the hospital would normally receive from insurance companies and government programs, Valdespino said.

The suspension of the liver program at St. Vincent means that lifesaving transplants could be delayed for 75 patients who are on the center's liver waiting list.
And people scoff at suggestions that the State Department might be compromised by Saudi influence.

The rewards of becoming a highly-paid "consultant" after leaving Foggy Bottom if one has behaved as befitting a slave should not be discounted, if doctors could be persuaded to falsify documents to take a liver away from a sick American for a miserable princeling.


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