Lawyer for man who wants kidney transplant fights Montreal hospital in court
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
MONTREAL (CP) - Baruch Tegegne's reasons for wanting a kidney transplant can't be any simpler.
"I want to save my life, I want to live, like everybody," the 61-year-old, who has become involved in an ethical and legal battle with a Montreal hospital, told a news conference Tuesday.
Tegegne's friends have found a potential saviour on the Internet (www.matchingdonors.com) but the Royal Victoria Hospital has refused to perform the transplant, saying it is concerned money might exchange hands and that the would-be donor is not a family member.
The hospital's position prompted Tegegne's lawyer, Michael Bergman, to launch court proceedings Tuesday to force the institution to conduct medical compatibility tests on Shree Dhar, the wannabe donor who lives in India.
Tegegne, who undergoes dialysis four times a week, has seven brothers but they are not healthy enough to help him.
He said he couldn't believe his luck when Dhar, a 30-year-old investment consultant and father of two, stepped forward.
"I was so, so happy," said Tegegne, an Ethiopian native. "I see people dying in the hospital. I don't want that to happen to me. I want to live."
The Royal Victoria said Monday it had no comment because of the impending legal nature of the matter. Calls to the hospital Tuesday were not immediately returned.
Tegegne, Bergman and Simcha Jacobovici, a close friend of Tegegne's, all denied money is involved although they have offered to pay Dhar's expenses and any wages he loses while he is away from India.
Dhar spoke to the news conference by telephone and said he is a non-smoking teetotaller who will have God on his side if the operation goes ahead.
And Dhar, who lost a grandfather to kidney failure, said he was impressed with Tegegne's fighting spirit when he read about him crossing the Sahara Desert in the 1970s to escape persecution amid political turmoil in Ethiopia.
"My motives are pure," he said. "I am definitely interested in donating a kidney."
Bergman, meanwhile, begged the Royal Victoria to be open to the possibility that altruism does exist.
"There are still people in this world, whether in this country or others overseas, whatever their circumstances, who still believe in the most noble of human values.
"The man has a right to life. He has a right to assistance if his life's in jeopardy. He has a right to be treated equally. Why shouldn't a living man be treated at least as equal as someone who's dead?
"A person can give organs when their life is over, yet a living man cannot do the same thing."