SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria’s caretaker health minister on Friday sacked the management of a leading hospital in the capital, Sofia, where he said illegal organ transplants were carried out and state funds were abused on a large scale.
Stoycho Katsarov claimed that over the past two years surgeons from the hospital performed at least 14 kidney transplants with organs from living donors.
He said the donors were all young people from Ukraine and Moldova — both among Europe’s poorest countries — while the recipients had claimed to be their “uncles or aunts” from countries including Israel, Japan, Germany and Oman.
The minister said that in Bulgaria transplants are only allowed from living donors who are related to the recipients. He added that in the case of the transplants at the Sofia hospital, “there were reasons to believe the donors and recipients were not relatives.” Furthermore, the recipients were thought to have given false identification.
Katsarov said the files would be sent to the police.
He listed another case in which surgeons allegedly carried out a transplant from a deceased donor. But instead of transplanting the organ to the first patient on the waiting list, it was provided to the fourth in line, who was highly placed in the state administration.
The minister said an internal investigation at the hospital had also shown that large sums of money had been fraudulently claimed from the public health insurance fund.
The interim government, appointed after an inconclusive general election in April, has made a series of revelations of alleged corruption involving the previous government of Boyko Borissov.