Eminent Transplant Doctor Investigated for “Organ Trafficking” at Mexican Hospital

Tue Jul 15, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST

By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

GUADALAJARA, Mexico, July 15, 2008 ( - The chief of the organ transplant program at Guadalajara’s Civil Hospital is under investigation for receiving up to one million pesos ($100,000) in a personal bank account in exchange for prioritizing transplant surgeries, according to local news reports.

Dr. Luis Carlos Rodríguez Sancho reportedly required patients to deposit the money in exchange for moving patients up the transplant list, despite the fact that the Civil Hospital is a government institution, and, according to state regulations, transplants are free of charge.

The payments made to Sancho have been confirmed by the state comptroller’s office, according to a local newspaper, El Informador.

Rodríguez Sancho has reportedly failed to respond to requests by the State Council of Organ and Tissue Transplants for an explanation for why seven people not on the transplant waiting list received their surgeries before others, according to Proceso magazine. 

Proceso also reports that a procurement agency in the city of San Luis Potosí has been accused of involvement with the doctor’s under-the-table business.

State authorities have suspended all transplant surgeries at the hospital, and the nation’s National Transplant Center has cleared the waiting list pending a full investigation.

Rodríguez Sancho was initially suspended from his duties, but has been reinstated. Sancho is considered to be one of the finest surgeons in Mexico, and his expertise has been deemed vitally necessary at the hospital. However, the investigation is continuing.

The Rector of the University of Guadalajara, Carlos Brisño Torres, called upon the state authorities to do a thorough investigation.

"The University of Guadalajara, which is academically and administratively responsible for the civil hospitals, and I, as a member of the governing body, request that the authorities continue to the final consequences, that absolutely no one is protected, that if any irregularity exists the one who is responsible will have to answer to justice," he said.

Briseño Torres noted that his own family might have been victimized by Rodíguez Sancho.

"I have a personal case to lament because a sister of my wife who accompanies me here, died on the waiting list for a liver, so, for it to turn out to have some of these irregularities, imagine," he said.

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