A former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has told a court in London that he was advised by his doctor against seeking a kidney donor from among his family members.
Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, are facing charges in the United Kingdom after they allegedly lured a young man from Nigeria to harvest his organ for their ailing daughter, Sonia, who is also standing trial.
The lawmaker was last year arrested and had been in the custody of UK authorities after they received complaints from the young man about their alleged plans to harvest his organ.
According to Daily Mail, the young man, a trader from Lagos, was to be rewarded for donating a kidney to Sonia in an £80,000 private procedure at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
The Ekweremadus, however, decided to turn their interest to Turkey in search of the needed organ after the 21-year-old was rejected as unsuitable.
While cross-examining the lawmaker, Prosecutor Hugh Davies KC said, “On the question of whether a family member could, in principle, act as a donor, you decided that was not possible based on a reported conversation between your non-nephrologist brother and Dr Obeta, a non-nephrologist?”
In response, Ekweremadu said, “He would have had basic knowledge. I’m not a doctor, so if he says so, I believe him.”
But Davies said, “All you had to do, rather than rely on a second-hand account from non-nephrologists, was to ask one of the specialists you were consulting whether a family member could donate a kidney.”
Ekweremadu, however, suggested he had “limited intelligence,” a claim that was rejected by the prosecutor, who said, “It is incredible. You do not lack intelligence.”
Davies continued, “The fact is you did not even try to ask Sonia’s cousins, for example, to consider acting as a donor.
“What you are saying is you had no intention of anyone in your family – immediate or extended – stepping up to donate a kidney to Sonia.
“Far better to buy one and let the medical risk go to someone you don’t know.”
Responding, Ekweremadu said it was “not true” that he agreed to get a donor by going through agents for the task.
Davies responded, “The pattern of communication reflects none of the type of human communication and contact you would expect if you and your family had believed that (the proposed donor) was a good Samaritan.”
Ekweremadu repeated, “Not true.”
Davies asserted, “The transplant with (the donor), not having gone ahead, you and your family then immediately sought to recruit further donors for reward, transferring jurisdiction out of the UK to Turkey.
“That failed too because even that donor had not been trained properly to give the false answers when interviewed.”
The defendant dismissed the prosecutor’s claims, saying, “These are not the facts.”
Davies continued, “You did not move away from the Royal Free clinical team because they lacked expertise.
“When another donor was required, you immediately sought to transfer the clinical process to Turkey.”
On why the Ekweremadus had been prepared to leave an “internationally recognised centre of excellence” in London for an unknown quantity in Turkey, the lawmaker replied Davies, saying treatment in Turkey was “cheaper”.
Mr Davies responded, “You were looking to cut corners on your daughter’s clinical outcome to save money? You were a wealthy man, senator.”
According to Daily Mail, the defendant, who owns dozens of properties in Nigeria and Dubai, and sent his children to be privately educated, denied being a wealthy man.
Davies said, “That’s not true. Think of the number of properties you own.”
Meanwhile, Ekweremadu remains in custody while the trial of his family and a medical “middleman”, Dr. Obinna Obeta, at the Old Bailey continues.
(Daily Mail cited in The Punch)