• Husband demands $1.5 million compensation or return of the kidney

A man who gave his wife a kidney during their marriage has demanded that she return it after she filed for divorce.

Now, divorces can be messy, that’s for sure but while typical complications arise from fighting for money, assets, and children, this one couple was left in a sticky situation after the husband demanded that she return one of his organs after he donated it to her when times were a little… better.

Dr Richard Batista donated one of his kidneys to his wife when she needed a transplant but after Dawnell Batista recently started legal proceedings to end what was supposed to be a lifelong commitment to each other, Richard decided to give her a unique ultimatum: Give him his kidney back or give him 1.5 million dollars as compensation.

Attorney Dominic Barbara, who was representing Richard in the case, revealed that the husband gave his wife the kidney after she underwent two failed transplants prior.

The operation took place at the University of Minnesota Medical Centre on June 18 2001 during a time when the pair were already undergoing marital stress due to Dawnell’s health issues.

“My first priority was to save her life,” Batista said at a news conference in Garden City as per the Guardian. “The second bonus was to turn the marriage around.”

And when things became more difficult for the pair, divorce seemed to be the only option.

But was it possible? Could Richard get his organ back?

Arthur Caplan at the University of Pennsylvania’s Centre for Bioethics, deemed it as “somewhere between impossible and completely impossible.”

“There’s nothing later [you can get] in terms of compensation if you regret your gift,” he said, which is what an organ donation is considered as because you can’t buy or sell them legally in the United States.

He also explained that no reputable surgeon would perform a medical procedure of this nature.

Robert Veatch, a medical ethicist at Georgetown University’s Kennedy Institute of Ethics also doubled down on this stance saying: “It’s illegal for an organ to be exchanged for anything of value.”

Donating an organ is considered a gift and legally “when you give something, you can’t get it back”, he stated.

“It’s her kidney now and… taking the kidney out would mean she would have to go on dialysis or it would kill her,” Veatch added.

After all that back and forth, Richard eventually lost his case, with the Nassau County Supreme Court rejecting his request and branding the kidney donation a gift, just like the experts had predicted.

“The defendant’s effort to pursue and extract monetary compensation therefore not only runs afoul of the statutory prescription, but conceivably may expose the defendant to criminal prosecution,” matrimonial referee Jeffrey Grob said in a 10-page document outlining the decision.

Dawnell’s attorney, Douglas Rothkopf, said that he and his client “[were] pleased with the decision” also adding: “Human organs are not commodities that can be bought or sold.”


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