The rise and fall of the South African organ-trafficking ring


Ilan Perry of Israel approaches Roderick Kimberley of Durban, South Africa, about getting involved in a kidney-transplant ring. Over the next two years, at least 107 transplant operations are carried out at St. Augustine's Hospital in Durban. All the recipients are Israeli. The donors come from Israel, Brazil, and possibly Russia and Romania.


Aug./Sept. Hernani Gomes da Silva first connects with the kidney-donor syndicate in Recife, Brazil.

October Hernani flies to Durban.

Nov. 26 Hernani's left kidney is removed and implanted in Amiram Aharoni, an Israeli. Hernani is listed as a "live related" donor.


February In Israel, Arie Pach has surgery to prepare for kidney dialysis but realizes he doesn't want to spend his life hooked to the machines.

April 8 Arie arrives in Durban.

April 16 Arie gets a new kidney, transplanted from a Brazilian.

June Johan Wessels in Durban is asked by the health department to join the investigation of an organ-trafficking ring.

Late November An Israeli donor named S. Zohr bolts from operating table at St. Augustine's, confirming the existence of an international kidney syndicate.

Nov. 27 Durban police raid St. Augustine's.

Dec. 3 Police in South Africa and Brazil arrest 14 people allegedly involved in the ring.

Dec. 5 Agania Robel, an Israeli kidney-transplant patient, is fined $770 for an illegal kidney transplant in Durban.

Dec. 10 Mr. Kimberley pleads guilty to 76 counts of contravening the Human Tissue Act. He is given a six-year suspended sentence and fined $38,000. He implicates senior clinic staff involved in more than 107 cases of illegal transplants.

Dec. 18 Hernani testifies before the Pernambuco state legislature, and says he's getting death threats.


January Hernani, in disguise, testifies before the Brazilian parliament.

March A congressional investigation in Brazil begins, looking into more than 50 cases of kidney donations in five states. Investigators have until September to present their findings.

June In South Africa, four alleged syndicate members have been charged and are awaiting trial. The investigation has been expanded to hospitals in Johannesburg and Cape Town. In Israel, the Knesset expects to debate a bill making the brokering of organ sales illegal.

Source: Staff research and wire services

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