Monday, December 28, 2009

Israeli Organ Harvesting Goes Mainstream

Israel Admits To Taking Organs Illegally
By Mark Lavie
Associated Press

The former head of Israel's Abu Kabir forensic institute has admitted that in the 1990s, the institute's forensic pathologists harvested organs from dead bodies, including Palestinians, without the permission of their families.

The issue emerged with publication of an interview with the then-head of Abu Kabir forensic institute, Dr Jehuda Hiss.

In it, Hiss said, "We started to harvest corneas... Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family".

The Channel 2 report said that in the 1990s, forensic specialists at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives.

In a response to the TV report, the Israeli military confirmed that the practice took place.

In the interview, Hiss described how his doctors would mask the removal of corneas from bodies.

"We'd glue the eyelid shut," he said. "We wouldn't take corneas from families we knew would open the eyelids."

Sheppard-Hughes said she felt the interview must be made public now because "the symbolism, you know, of taking skin of the population considered to be the enemy, (is) something, just in terms of its symbolic weight, that has to be reconsidered."

Angry Israeli officials called the report "anti-Semitic."

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