Alleged Organ Harvesting: Alliance Hospital threatens legal action against Daily Trust

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Alliance Hospital has refuted an alleged illegal kidney harvesting levelled against the hospital by a media report, threatening to take a legal action against the Daily Trust Newspaper that carried out the report. The Medical Director, Alliance Hospital and Services Ltd, Dr. Christopher Otabor disclosed this in press statement made available to journalists in Abuja. The statement has its title, ” Campaign of Calumny Against Alliance Hospital by Daily Trust Newspaper: Enough is Enough”.

“On Saturday August 19th 2023, Daily Trust newspaper carried as their cover story an article titled: How Abuja syndicates lured minor for kidney harvest. “The picture of Alliance hospital was contiguous to the caption. At first look at the headline, one would reason that the article is addressing the problem of organ sales in Nigeria but on reading through, it will become clear to any discerning reader that Alliance Hospital is the target of campaign of calumny here.

“Seeing that the furore that greeted their first article of 19th August, 2023 had died down without achieving their goal, daily trust newspaper published another article on Sunday 10th December, 2023, written by the same staff of the newspaper house. “The title for the second publication is: Investigation: ‘Inside Abuja’s Kidney ‘Market’ Where the Rich Prey on The Poor. Again a beautiful title but the purpose is to vilify Alliance Hospital.

“BACK GROUND

Alliance Hospital in response to the huge burden of kidney failure in Nigeria and the need to develop a world class kidney transplant centre to prolong the lives of kidney failure patients decided to establish a kidney transplant unit in 2017. The program has been running successfully till date with a huge success story in its trail.

“OUR PROCEDURE

As a rule, kidney recipients source for their donors and present them to the hospital for screening for compatibility and fitness for donation. After the screening, we proceed to ensure they meet the legal requirements which include:

1. Donor must be 18 years or above.

2. Donor must sign consent in the presence of two adult witnesses.

3. Donor is expected to swear an affidavit stating his age and affirming that the decision to donate is by free will and there is no compulsion or financial inducement.

4. The relationship of the donor to the recipient.

“The law governing organ transplant in Nigeria is scanty and limited in depth. It only requires the donor to be above 18years of age and the fact that there is no financial inducement for the donation.

We have followed the above protocol strictly for all the kidney transplant cases done by the hospital.

“THE CASE IN QUESTION

On 5th May, 2023, one Lawal Idris representing Lawal Idris Law Firm in Abuja wrote a petition to the FCT Commissioner of Police stating that one Emmanuel Melody, a staff of Alliance Hospital lured his client Oluwatobi Adebayo a 17year old boy to the hospital to harvest his kidney and Alliance Hospital paid the boy (donor) only #1,000,000 (One Million Naira).

“The lawyer also claimed in his petition that due investigations were not done to ascertain compatibility and fitness of the boy for surgery. He prayed the Police Commissioner to investigate the matter and bring the culprits to book. The Police Commissioner ordered for the arrest of some members of our kidney transplant team and instituted a high level investigation team to investigate the claims.

“The Police found no merit in the petition as the key suspect, Emmanuel Melody was proven not to be a staff of Alliance Hospital and they also confirmed from the court that the donor, Oluwatobi Adebayo swore to an affidavit stating that he was above 18 years of age at the time of the surgery. Affidavit stating age and donation on free will without monetary inducement is a key requirement for the hospital.

“Furthermore, there is no iota of evidence of monetary transactions between the hospital, its staff and the donors or their representatives. Having failed with the Police, the same lawyer Mr Lawal Idris contacted one Mr Bakare, director of criminal justice department of the legal aid council to write a letter to the medical director of Alliance Hospital on 2nd of August, 2023 demanding for the sum of #100,000,000 (One Hundred Million naira) as compensation for the unlawful harvest of a minor kidney and #50,000,000 (Fifty Million Naira) for his father Mr Adedoyin Salman for psychological and emotional trauma caused him. They threatened to go to court if we do not meet their demand in 21 days.

“The Medical Director of Alliance Hospital swiftly responded to the letter bearing the logo of legal aid council. In his reply, he stated the fact that the hospital is not interested in paying any compensation. They were advised to go to court if they so wish.

In response to our rebuttal Mr Lawal Idris and his co-travelers called for a press conference to brief the press on their false claims.

“Daily Trust newspaper was obviously spoken to by the aggrieved lawyer. Armed with her biased position, a female reporter (probably Lami Sadiq) visited the hospital and spoke with the medical director on the case in question. She was given all the facts. “A few days later specifically on the 19th of August, 2023, the first headline publication on the story debuted. The story was vindictive, biased and an obvious vendetta against the hospital. This second publication of 10th December is in line with the first and it is a peddler of half-truth. While we appreciate the need for investigative journalism to get to the root of societal problems, we must also be circumspect in order not to appear biased and miss the mark as they that come to equity must come with clean hands.

“From the report, it is obvious that there is an organ market out there which Alliance hospital is not part of and can never condescend to transact in. The writer of the article obviously took a position against the hospital, pronounced a guilty verdict on it and called for punishment for the hospital without due regards to the facts.

I encourage Daily trust newspaper to dig deep to unravel the key players in this trade. Alliance hospital has nothing to do with illegal organ harvesting. “In the meantime we have instructed our lawyers to write Daily trust newspaper to retract the defamatory publication against Alliance hospital within a specific period of time or face legal action”.

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