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Galled by story on liver transplant

June 04, 2008

Re "After livers, cash to UCLA," May 31

I want to extend congratulations to those in the FBI and at UCLA who decided it was a good idea to save the lives of Japanese gangsters while decent people die waiting for liver transplants. My sister was in the UCLA transplant program and died during this period.

I cannot express the feelings that arose with my memories of that good woman's courage in the face of great pain and her dauntless hope of a transplant, and how it feels now to know that she and other good souls passed when criminals with lots of money were saved.

George Goodwin

Anaheim

There were no headlines in The Times when a patient with no affiliation to the entertainment business or a Japanese "gang" received a transplant within 48 hours of his arrival at UCLA. There are numerous cases like this, but you choose to ignore them. However, I understand. Saving the lives of "regular" folks doesn't sell as many papers.

Congratulations. The Times has become quite successful in deterring families from donating organs. Every time a family chooses not to donate, more patients die. Is this what The Times is supporting? Who are any of us to judge anyone's occupation when a life-saving procedure is required?

I am a liver transplant coordinator who has proudly worked with Dr. Ronald W. Busuttil, executive chairman of UCLA's surgery department, for more than 20 years. Shame on The Times.

Barbara J. Nuesse RN

Los Angeles

I am greatly concerned regarding Dr. David Mulligan's and Sen. Charles Grassley's (R-Iowa) remarks regarding liver transplantation. A patient's medical condition should be the only deciding factor; social histories have no role.

I am a general surgeon. When I am faced with a dying patient, should I tell him I will not provide care for him because he is a criminal? I think not. As a Vietnam veteran, I spent six months in Saigon as chief of a hospital's emergency services. When enemy soldiers were brought into my emergency room wounded, should I have denied them care? I think not.

A fringe benefit is that not only did the UCLA patients pay their bill in full, they also donated $100,000. Most liver transplants are done on people who have no ability to pay. I ask Dr. David Boska, whose comment was, "You have a brother who dies because he doesn't have $500,000 to spend on a liver" -- who is supposed to pick up the bill?

Elliott Brender MD

Clinical Professor

of Surgery, UC Irvine

Villa Park

If medical need and money are the top issues in obtaining an organ transplant at UCLA, why don't we fly in Osama bin Laden? Doesn't he have kidney failure and a lot of money from international crime? If we're going to award wealthy criminals at the expense of good, honest sick patients, are we not indirectly "state sponsors of terrorism?" You say Yakuza, I say Al Qaeda.

Jason Cheng MD

Fullerton

"After livers, cash to UCLA"? Are you that hard up for muckraking stories? I believe that the basis for many medical donations is gratitude for life-saving and life-changing treatments. I also thought that doctors help all regardless of their background. Shouldn't that sort of screening be the job of the FBI? If grateful donors are newsworthy now, may I suggest for your "expose" on college alumni associations, "After graduation, cash to alma maters."

Jackie Reynolds

Los Angeles

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