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The truth behind
organ donation
& transplants

The truth behind organ donation & transplants


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… The truth behind organ donation & organ transplants

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The Nasty Side of Organ Transplanting.

Chapter 23

Trusting Your Hospital

If you use Frankenstein medicine you get Frankenstein results.

Professor Lynette Dumble[152]

In 1958 an American named Raben obtained human growth hormone (hGH) from pituitary glands removed from corpses. The pituitary is a pea-shaped gland located in a bone cavity at the base of the brain. It stimulates growth, especially in adolescents, and when the gland is defective, children remain short and women infertile. Short children who ate the corpses’ growth hormone grew to normal height and infertile women doing the same became pregnant.

When Australian professionals are caught acting despicably they often blame their behaviour on American influences. Yet during the history of the Human Growth Hormone program American doctors were frank and open, telling their patients hGH was obtained from corpses. Australian doctors deceived their patients saying the hormone was from a “natural source”. Dead bodies may be natural but eating parts of them is not.

The Australian Human Pituitary Hormone Program began in 1965. The Commonwealth Serum Laboratory (CSL) managed the operation by collecting the glands from morgues throughout Australia then processed them into hGH.

The pituitary glands were frequently removed illegally and without next of kin consent so CSL collectors avoided telling hospitals of their activities. They instead approached the pathologists doing post-mortems, theoretically, for education and research purposes only. Autopsy consent forms didn’t always include the right to remove organs but many pathologists did so anyway.

This Australian practice of using hospital post-mortems as a deceptive means to remove body parts was also practised in Britain and many other countries. Relatives were approached for consent for a post-mortem, overtly in the interest of science, but organs and body parts were removed covertly. 

The CSL still couldn’t obtain adequate supplies of glands in Australia because pathologists were reluctant to become involved not wanting to land in a legal and public relations nightmare. In response the CSL bypassed the pathologists and bribed morgue attendants to remove the glands.

These morgue attendants, untrained in surgery, used a hammer and chisel to whack off the bone cavity holding the pituitary gland then put the jagged bone, gland and dangling veins into acetone fluid or directly into the freezer from where CSL collectors would sporadically pick them up.[153]

 One CSL employee noted,

“We found, in the beginning, that supplies were sporadic, until we hit upon the simple expedient of bribing the post-mortem room attendants…”[154]

Morgue attendants, including those at the Queen Elizabeth 2 Centre in Perth, often used the bribery money for Christmas Parties. One attendant noted,

“…we’d use it mostly for our Christmas party. We used to have a pretty good morgue Christmas party.”[155]

Being paid made such a difference that one pathologist in Queensland noted,

“The attendants were pretty well drilled and they would remove the pituitaries and in fact if you wanted a pituitary for diagnostic purposes you had to stop them before they removed it. They automatically took them.”[156]

Another pathologist notes,

“We would grizzle every now and again because we thought we might have wanted the pituitary and it’d be gone you see…”[157]

Professor Margaret Allars, who headed the “Inquiry into the use of Pituitary Derived Hormones in Australia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease”, concluded that it appeared that gland removal was illegal when collection was used for hormone transplant purposes. A post-mortem, even with consent from relatives, was not consent to remove organs. No one was ever charged.[158]

One morgue attendant described the attitude at the time thus,

“Permission to do the post-mortem would cover it because how many people know you’re got a pituitary in your body.”[159]

171,091 pituitary glands were removed from Australian corpses from 1965 to 1985. The practice stopped when American scientists warned that infected pituitary glands were transmitting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease prions. The fact that corpses were being robbed under the guise of post-mortems was not a factor in stopping the program.

Dr McGovern’s Disease Warnings Ignored

Dr McGovern was a leading Australian neuro-pathologist of his day and a member of the Human Pituitary Advisory Committee. He repeatedly advised the Commonwealth Serum Laboratory (CSL) that glands should not be used where death was caused by “slow viral infections”. These included Creutzfeldt-Jakob and Alzheimer’s Diseases. The government removed Dr McGovern from the advisory committee in 1976. The CSL “accidentally” removed his infection warnings a year later and then recommenced using pituitary glands despite prions being a possible cause of death.[160]

Jane Allendar

The callousness of medical professionals could hardly be more distastefully displayed than in the 1988 death of Adelaide Hills woman, Jane Allendar. Jane became infected with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease after receiving fertility treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide from 1975. The Human Growth Hormone (hGH) used on Jane was derived from human corpses, some of whom had died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob or similar prion diseases. These were the types of corpse for which Dr McGovern had issued his warning.

It wasn’t just the fact that Jane Allendar died due to medical negligence but the way she was treated during her lengthy dying process. Doctors and medical bureaucrats associated with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the South Australian health system knew for some time how Jane had been infected. They also knew that she would die a slow, horrible death. They didn't tell Jane or Ted Allendar anything to protect their own interests despite persistent efforts from the Allendars. They eventually sent a nurse to coldly inform Jane, near the end of her life, that she had a terminal illness, cause unknown. But these medical bureaucrats knew all along.

Ted Allendar spent four years searching for the cause of his wife’s death. By this time probably twenty doctors and medical bureaucrats knew what killed Jane but all feigned ignorance or just didn’t think it was important to tell Ted. He discovered the cause in passing at an Administrative Appeals Tribunal Hearing in Adelaide. Creutzfeldt - Jakob disease prions had killed Jane and had come from her fertility treatment derived from corpse glands—and that the doctors and bureaucrats had known for years before her death.[161], [162]

Building Distrust in Japan

You can't blame the Shinto and Buddhist religions solely for the unpopularity of organ donation in Japan. Juro Wado helped.

Dr Wada was Japan’s first heart transplant surgeon. His donor was an eighteen-year-old drowning victim. Wada’s first mistake was declaring the boy dead instead of getting an independent assessment. His second mistake was putting the boy’s heart into a patient who didn't appear to need one and whom subsequently died twelve weeks later. An investigation indicated the patient needed a simple valve replacement and not a heart transplant.

Then the deceased patient’s original heart disappeared and when found later was missing its valves. These were found elsewhere but when examined one valve had a different blood type suggesting an attempt to confuse the investigators. Dr Wada blamed the misplacement of the valves on a younger surgeon who had conveniently died of gastric cancer and couldn’t defend himself.

The Japanese prosecution charged Dr Wada with double murder. The first charge was that the donor hadn’t been proved dead before harvesting. The second was that the deceased recipient had needed a simple mitral valve replacement and not the full transplant that killed him. The case dragged on for years and Dr Wada finally escaped conviction when all charges were dropped.

Further similar incidents followed leaving the Japanese public with major suspicions of transplant medicine.


[152] Cooke, Jennifer, Cannibals, Cows and the CJD Catastrophe, Random House, Milsons Point, NSW 1998

[153] Allars, Margaret. Inquiry into the use of Pituitary Derived Hormones in Australia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Australian Govt Publishing Services, Canberra, Australia. 1994. This independent inquiry was funded by the government after public opinion and victims’ relatives wouldn’t accept the Australian government’s own investigation. A more popular and readable version of hGH and CJD is found in Jennifer Cooke’s Cannibals, Cows and the CJD Catastrophe.

[154] Allars, Margaret. Inquiry into the use of Pituitary Derived Hormones in Australia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Australian Govt Publishing Services, Canberra, Australia. 1994

[155] Allars, Margaret. Inquiry into the use of Pituitary Derived Hormones in Australia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Australian Govt Publishing Services, Canberra, Australia. 1994. P 75-79

[156] Allars, Margaret. Inquiry into the use of Pituitary Derived Hormones in Australia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Australian Govt Publishing Services, Canberra, Australia. 1994. P71

[157] Allars, Margaret. Inquiry into the use of Pituitary Derived Hormones in Australia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Australian Govt Publishing Services, Canberra, Australia. 1994. P69

[158] Allars, Margaret. Inquiry into the use of Pituitary Derived Hormones in Australia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Australian Govt Publishing Services, Canberra, Australia. 1994. P 392,393,396

[159] Allars, Margaret. Inquiry into the use of Pituitary Derived Hormones in Australia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Australian Govt Publishing Services, Canberra, Australia. 1994. P391

[160] Allars, Margaret. Inquiry into the use of Pituitary Derived Hormones in Australia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Australian Govt Publishing Services, Canberra, Australia. 1994

[161] Allars, Margaret. Inquiry into the use of Pituitary Derived Hormones in Australia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Australian Govt Publishing Services, Canberra, Australia. 1994.

[162] Cooke, Jennifer, Cannibals, Cows and the CJD Catastrophe, Random House, Milsons Point, NSW 1998

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