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Netcare Hospitals Carried out Illegal Transplants, Star Says

Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Illegal kidney transplants were carried out in at least four South African hospitals, including three operated by Netcare Ltd., South Africa’s largest private-hospital operator, the Saturday Star reported, citing John Robbs, a surgeon at St. Augustine’s hospital in Durban.

Netcare’s Garden City Hospital and state-run Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg together performed 140 illegal kidney transplants, while Netcare’s St. Augustine’s hospital and Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town carried out a further 189 such operations between them, the Johannesburg-based newspaper said today.

Four calls to Netcare’s switchboard and the company secretary’s office by Bloomberg News today were not answered. Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital didn’t immediately respond to a phone message left by Bloomberg News requesting comment.

The doctors involved in the so-called cash-for-kidney program were not employed by Netcare and the company believed that, while it was not the creator of the program, the plan was legal, the Star said, citing spokeswoman Martina Nicholson.

Netcare in November pleaded guilty to illegal organ transplants at St. Augustine’s and was fined 4 million rand ($569,436) in the country’s Commercial Crime Court.

To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Johannesburg at fwild@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg in Jerusalem at phirschberg@bloomberg.net.

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