Why worry about Neonazis if you have doctors like this

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at SPAMgmx.net
Wed Aug 23 08:43:55 MDT 2000

>From the AP wire service:


Women Denied Heart Transplant

By BURT HERMAN, Associated Press Writer

BERLIN (AP) - A German hospital drew harsh criticism Tuesday for admitting
it denied a heart transplant to a Turkish resident because she didn't speak

The Heart and Diabetes Center of North Rhine-Westphalia said denying the
transplant for 56-year-old Fatma Elaldi was standard procedure when a
patient is unable to understand a doctor's instructions or communicate with
hospital staff after the complicated surgery.

Still, the issue touches a nerve in Germany, coping with a wave of
anti-foreigner violence and always sensitive about how it deals with its 2
million Turks, the largest minority group in the country.

The clinic's decision was criticized by other medical groups in Germany and
government officials, as well as Turkish community groups.

``The arguments of the clinic don't convince me,'' said Safter Cinar, a
board member of the Turkish Council of Berlin and Brandenburg. ``I don't
want to say racist, but it's a problematic thing. Medicine has the
obligation to care for the health of the people and this cannot depend on
German knowledge.''

Elaldi, who has lived in the western city of Neuwied for 21 years, has
suffered heart trouble since birth and received a pacemaker last year. At
the time, doctors told her she wouldn't be able to survive long without a
new heart. After five days of examination at the clinic this year,
specialists planned to place her on the transplant waiting list.

But in February she was notified by letter that she wasn't a candidate,
citing her ``lack of knowledge of the language'' as one of the main reasons.

Her daughter, Bektas, who speaks German and had offered to serve as a
translator, called the decision ``insanity.''

Elaldi eventually was placed on a waiting list for a transplant at a
Muenster hospital, according to Dr. Yasar Bilgin, chairman of the
Turkish-German Medical Foundation. He also said language knowledge wasn't a
reason to deny a transplant - citing German patients who go to the United
States for operations without speaking English.

A spokeswoman for the medical center in the town of Bad Oeynhausen, Petra
Mellwig, stood by the decision Tuesday - saying the hospital has found that
50 percent of its patients without sufficient language knowledge die soon
after transplants. She said two other hospitals in Germany also refused to
operate on her.

Mellwig stressed the doctors' decision had nothing to do with Elaldi being a
foreigner. She said drug or alcohol addicts are also turned down as
transplant candidates for the few available organs because they are seen as
risk cases in complying with medical instructions.

She said the offer from Elaldi's daughter to translate wasn't enough. ``Are
they there 24 hours a day caring for the patient?'' she asked.

But the hospital later said that, in light of the ``public discussion,'' it
would review its criteria to see whether ``possibilities can be found in
similar cases that would lead to an improvement in the chances of success.''

About 500 hearts are available each year for transplants in Germany, but the
demand is for more than twice that. About 20 percent of patients on waiting
lists die before they are able to receive the transplant.

The health minister in North Rhine-Westphalia, Birgit Fischer, called Monday
on the clinic to seek more practical solutions for the problem rather than
denying operations - such as using relatives to translate or
Turkish-speaking doctors.

``Every person has the right to adequate medical care. And we as doctors
have the duty to help,'' Alfred Moehrle, president of the Hesse state
doctors' association, said Tuesday.

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