[Stop-traffic] NEws/GERMANY: GERMANY INVESTIGATING ALLEGED ILLEGAL TRADE IN HUMAN KIDNEYS.

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] NEws/GERMANY: GERMANY INVESTIGATING ALLEGED ILLEGAL TRADE IN HUMAN KIDNEYS.
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Sat Nov 11 2000 - 18:55:08 EST


CTK Daily News
11/7/00 GERMANY: GERMANY INVESTIGATING ALLEGED ILLEGAL TRADE IN HUMAN
KIDNEYS.
BERLIN/PRAGUE, Nov 7 (CTK) - German federal detectives are investigating
alleged offers of kidneys from living people in the Czech Republic to
people waiting for kidney transplants in Germany, the German press agency
dpa has reported.
The report from dpa said offers of Czech people's kidneys were coming from
the Czech Republic from a Prague-based firm called Transpla-Cent. A firm
with this name does exist in Prague, however, CTK was not able today to
contact any of its representatives.
The German agency said that Germany's Foundation for Organ Transplants from
Neu-Isenburg had issued an alert about a suspicious offer of kidneys.
German investigators have now turned to the Prague branch of Interpol and
asked it to determine whether or not the Prague firm's approach constitutes
a violation of Czech laws, dpa added.
A spokesperson for the Czech branch of Interpol has told CTK this evening
that it so far does not have the above-mentioned firm in any of its files,
which means that if Germany has sent a request to the Prague Interpol
office, no such request has yet been received.
The firm Transpla-Cent s.r.o. has since August 2 of this year been listed
in the Czech Business Register with "mediation activity in the area of
trade and services" as its subject of business. A 35-year-old man with the
name Alexey Kharassov is listed as its executive. The register, published
on the Internet at www.justice.cz, shows, however, that most of the basic
capital for the firm (180,000 of the total 200,000 Czech crowns) was put
into it by a 37-year-old man named Edgar Rudolf Artz from Schwaebisch
Gmuend, Germany.
According to the German federal crime detectives' spokesman Dirk Buechner,
the firm Transpla-Cent has been presenting itself as "an advisory centre of
a private transplant clinic in Nevada [in the USA]". According to Buechner,
the Prague firm offers patients with serious kidney problems "immediate
help in the form of kidneys from living donors" and in its letters calls on
patients to "put themselves above moral and ethical hesitations".
Under German law, only organs given by a person's family members or by
deceased donors may be used for transplant operations. Donation of organs
from other living people is forbidden by German law and is categorised as
the criminal offence of trade in human organs.
Recipients of such illegally obtained organs cannot be subject to
prosecution, given their health conditions at the time transplant
operations are performed on them, however, doctors who perform such
operations or mediators of such illegal trade can face huge fines and
imprisonment for up to five years under German law.
German investigators are among other things now trying to find out how the
Prague firm could have received information about German patients, to whom
it is reportedly directly addressing and sending its letters. According to
the German Foundation for Organ Transplants, there are at present 12,000
patients in Germany in need of new kidneys, and the average waiting period
for them is usually five years.
The head of the Transplant Centre of Prague's Institute of Clinical and
Experimental Medicine (IKEM), Stefan Vitko, today told CTK that he was
entirely aware that the firm Transpla-Cent was offering to sell human
organs, and he also confirmed that the firm's activities were being looked
into as well by Czech police. He, however, described Transpla-Cent as "a
German firm", which he said "does offer organs, but not from the Czech
Republic."
"It's just a coincidence that it has its headquarters in Prague," Vitko
added.
Vitko further stated that to his awareness German police had "no knowledge
whatsoever of even one case [of transfers of human organs from the Czech
Republic through the firm Transpla-Cent as a mediator] ever having
occurred".
($1=39.975 crowns)
jrl/dr/ms.
(c) 2000 CTK (Ceska Tiskova Kancelar). All rights reserved.
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  CTK DAILY NEWS 07/11/2000
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