MONTREAL — A Montreal man who found a kidney donor on the Internet is taking legal action against the hospital that refused to perform the transplant for ethical reasons.
Baruch Tegegne, 61, has dialysis treatment four times a week and has needed a kidney transplant for a year. None of his relatives are compatible donors.
Rather than waiting on a transplant list with 3,000 other Canadians, a friend, documentary filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, put an ad on a website pleading for a donor.
In late February, a man in India responded to the ad and offered Tegegne his kidney.
Royal Victoria Hospital refused to perform the operation on the grounds that it could not be sure the man was not being paid under the table for his organ.
Buying and selling organs is illegal in Canada.
Tegegne's lawyer, Michael Bergman, has declined to discuss the case until Monday, when he is to announce at a news conference that a lawsuit has been filed.
Shree Dhar, the potential donor, is an educated cotton exporter living in southern India and has not asked for payment other than for his travel expenses, Jacobovici said. Tegegne said he wouldn't have the money to buy an organ if it were the case.
In e-mail, text message and telephone interviews, Dhar said he wanted to donate his kidney because his grandfather had died of kidney failure. Tegegne's flight from Ethiopia and human rights efforts also struck a chord with him, Dhar said.
Ethiopian-born Tegegne was the subject of a documentary by Jacobovici on the slaying and exile of Jews in that country after a Marxist takeover in 1974. Tegegne escaped but returned to Ethiopia and began smuggling Jews out of the country.
"I saved a lot of people and now I don't have anyone to save me," he said.
Please donate now to help save Baruch's life.
Paying privately (i.e., without insurance) for a live donor kidney transplant costs (depending on location, complications, etc.) $175,000 to $300,000. At least 80% of the cost must be paid up front.
The Sha'arei Dayah Foundation [a 501(c)(3) nonprofit] has set up a fund for online donations. Please indicate "Baruch" or "Kidney" in the special instructions section of the secure webpage.
Please give generously.
Baruch Tegegne saved many lives, risking his own life time and again to bring Jews to safety.
Please him in his time of need.