Doctor Demands That Estranged Wife Return Kidney — Or Pay

A New York doctor wants his estranged wife to return the kidney he donated to her, and is suing her for $1.5 million in lieu of the organ.

Dr. Richard Batista donated a kidney to wife Dawnell Batista in 2001 in what he says was an effort to save both her life and the couple's marriage. The couple, who married in 1990, had three daughters, but their relationship became strained when Dawnell began battling kidney failure. She received two kidney transplants that failed before her husband found that he was a match. Though the surgery was successful, in physical therapy, Dawnell started an affair with her therapist. "I saved her life and then to be betrayed like this is unfathomable. It's incomprehensible," says Batista. Since July 2005, the couple has been involved in a bitter divorce, and Batista says he only went public with his demand for kidney compensation because his wife has prevented him from seeing their children and he's tired of negotiating with her.

Without her husband's donation, Dawnell may have had a very difficult time getting a kidney transplant. The chances of her husband being a match were 1-in-700,000 to start, and had she not been able to use his kidney she would have faced a long wait, as there are 6,748 people on the kidney waiting list in New York State, according to the New York Daily News.

If she actually could give the kidney back today, her chances of getting an organ transplant would be even worse. A new study has found that older women have less access to kidney transplants than men. Researchers found that while no gender disparity exists for younger women, the chances a woman will be referred to the kidney donor waiting list begin declining at 46, with women aged 56 to 65 having 15% less access to donor kidneys than men.

"In theory we are asking for the return of the kidney," Dr. Batista's lawyer told the New York Post. "Of course he wouldn't really ask for that but the value of it." A medical expert estimated that $1.5 million was the value of the organ, but a divorce attorney not involved in the case doubts he will be awarded compensation for the organ. "I've been in this business over 40 years and I've never heard of that," said Seymour J. Reisman. "It's not marital property, not a marital asset you can put a price tag on."

Long Island Doctor Richard Batista To Estranged Wife: Give Me My Kidney Back Or $1.5M [NY Daily News]
Women's Access to Donated Kidneys Declines With Age, Particularly Compared With Men [EurekAlert]
Hubby Demands $1.5M From Wife For Kidney [NY Post]

[Image via MorgueFile.]