According to the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Richard R. Lopez, Jr., head of the liver transplant program at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles, was acquitted by a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Friday, on charges conspiracy, concealment of material fact and falsification of records. The charges related to a liver transplant in 2003. Dr. Lopez acknowledged that he was involved in a decision to give a liver intended for a patient to another patient more than 50 places down the transplant waiting list, which constituted a violation of transplant rules. The government charged Dr. Lopez with orchestrating a cover up of the violation. The liver was intended for a patient residing in Saudi Arabia, and was given to another patient residing in Saudi Arabia. Under the transplant rules, the organ should have been given to the next person on the list–a patient at the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center.
St. Vincent initially reported the actual recipient of the liver to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a private, non-group contracted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which oversees transplantation nationwide. Later the same day, the hospital’s staff retracted the notification and incorrectly reported that the liver had gone to the individual which it had been offered to. The government alleged that St. Vincent continued to file false documents concerning the liver. The defense argued that Dr. Lopez had no knowledge of the falsification of the documents, and that Dr. Lopez was being made “a scapegoat for everything that was wrong at St. Vincent’s.”
St. Vincent has subsequently shut down its liver transplant program.
For serious criminal matters, contact the offices of Gillen Withers & Lake LLC in Savannah or Atlanta.