Although Colombian law states that Colombians must be treated ahead of foreigners when there is a waiting list, some foreigners have obtained organ transplants by fraudulent means, often using the courts to get treated more quickly, the country’s Inspector General warns.
According to a report in newspaper El Tiempo, Brazilian businessman Claudio Vogel fraudulently obtained a new liver in Colombia. The Prosecutor General’s Office has a document wherein is said he was a man of limited resources and therefore unable to afford Brazilian healthcare, but it emerged that he had made transfers of over $100 thousand to pay for examinations, surgery and accomodation in a plush El Poblado apartment.
Also under investigation is the case of the Domican man who claimed he was a Medellin-born Colombian in order to get a transplant two years ago.
According to figures from the Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS), 311 surgeries have been performed on foreigners in the last five years, but in 101 cases it is not known how they accessed the service.
El Tiempo says that groups of lawyers, doctors and middlemen have sprung up to profit from surgery given to foreigners, in many cases obtaining access for their clients through the courts. According to the INS, these groups pay up to three times the cost of a transport.
So far, names have emerged of suspected intermediaries between lawyers and Ventex, a company that helps foreigners obtain surgery in Colombia.
The San Vincente de Paul Hospital and the Valle de Lili Foundation admitted having contacts with this company and performing transplants on foreigners, but denied any knowledge of wrongdoings, saying that the treatments were performed under Colombian law.
The situation is being investigated by DAS in conjunction with the Ministerio de la Proteccion and the Foreign Ministry who are advising foreign governments on the phenomenon and the possibility that their citizens are committing a crime.