After twenty-five years, a sentence has been handed down in a criminal case involving illegal organ harvesting. A judge sentenced Doctors Rui Sacramento, Pedro Torrecillas, and Mariano Fiore Jr. to seventeen years and six months each in prison.
Another neurosurgeon, Antonio de Carvalho Monteiro, was also accused but died last year.
The three doctors were charged with removing kidneys from four patients that were not dead. Between September and December 1986, the four patients, registered organ donors, were declared brain dead by neurosurgeon Mariano Fiore Jr., who then authorized the removal of the organs.
Torrecillas and Sacramento removed the organs and prepared them for transplant. Following the removal of the organs, the patients died.
The organs were harvested at a public hospital and then sent to a private organ transplant facility. At public hospitals, transplants are free, but wait lists are long. At private facilities, the organ transplant process can be accelerated for those wealthy enough to pay the price. For each kidney, it is estimated that $41,000 was paid.
Two organ recipients testified in the trial that they paid that amount for a kidney transplant at the private facility. Both noted that they were not informed of where the organ donation was from.
The case came to light in December of 1986 when the head Doctor at the University of Taubate’s medical school noticed irregularities in records of organ transplants. He investigated further into the transplants and the team of doctors who performed them and turned the information over to the Federal Council of Medicine.
The state prosecutor on the case, Marcio Friggi de Carvalho said that the victims “simply did not have the diagnosis of brain death.”
When the sentence was handed down, the doctors’ attorney noted that he respected the jury’s decision but his clients were going to appeal. The doctors will be permitted to continue practicing while their appeal is considered.
Family members of the victims present when the sentence was handed down cried and hugged each other.
The decision has long been awaited. Brazilian authorities termed the case extremely complex to explain the twenty-five year wait. The Brazilian criminal justice system is a slow machine; it is not uncommon for cases to take years or even decades to be decided.
- Doctors guilty of harvesting organs of live patients (ctv.ca)
- Brazilian doctors jailed for killing patients by removing organs (thestar.com)
- Brazil doctors found guilty of killing patients (seattletimes.nwsource.com)