Surgeon tried in Germany over organ transplant fraud

GOTTINGEN (AFP) - A surgeon went on trial in Germany on Monday for attempted manslaughter, accused of faking medical data to give his patients preferential access to donated livers at the expense of others.

The 46-year-old former chief transplant surgeon at Goettingen University Hospital, identified only as Aiman O., denied the 11 counts of attempted manslaughter before the court in the central German city.

The defendant also faces three charges of causing bodily injury resulting in death for having transplanted livers to unsuitable patients. In all three cases, the patient died.

His defence team rejected prosecution charges that he manipulated patients' medical records which he sent to the central procurement agency Eurotransplant in an attempt to move them up the waiting list for recipients.

The surgeon, who has been in remand custody since January, faces at least three years' jail if found guilty.

The trial is the first stemming from a wave of medical scandals that erupted more than a year ago and diminished trust in the organ transplant system and Germans' willingness to consent to donating their organs after they die.

More irregularities were later reported in hospitals in the cities of Munich, Leipzig and Regensburg.

Prosecutors argue that in such cases the victims are those patients who are in greater need of new organs but miss out and may die as a result.

About 12,000 patients in Germany are on waiting lists for organ transplants, but the number of potential donors has shrunk since the scandal broke, and a nationwide advertising campaign has sought to boost numbers again.