Presume not on thy heart when mine’s coerced; Thou gav’st me thine, but then we got divorced

by Kieran Healy on January 8, 2009

Donated Kidney is Center of Divorce Dispute:

A Long Island doctor is demanding that his estranged wife give him back the kidney he donated to her seven years ago. Dr. Richard Batista’s lawyer Dominic Barbara says his client would also be satisfied with the value of the kidney: $1.5 million. Newsday reports that Batista married wife Dawnell in 1990 and that he donated the kidney in 2001. According to Batista, their marriage was on the rocks then, but “My first priority was to save her life. The second bonus was to turn the marriage around.” Dawnell Batista filed for divorce in 2005. Dr. Batista told WCBS 880, “She had an affair, then would not reconcile, then handed me divorce papers as I was going into surgery trying to save another person’s life.

All in all the very archetype of a wacky organ donation story, right down to the mandatory quote from Arthur Caplan.

{ 50 comments }

1

noen 01.08.09 at 3:15 am

I have an inkling why she left him in the first place. “[she] handed me divorce papers as I was going into surgery trying to save another person’s life.” Yes, that’s what you do when they’re being a dick about it. Catch them when they can’t run away from getting served.

2

harry b 01.08.09 at 3:18 am

Funny, noen, that was my thought exactly. The guy is revealing a lot about himself. Maybe he should sue her for the value of all the little daily kindnesses he did for her. If any.

3

purpleOnion 01.08.09 at 3:29 am

If one buys a trophy wife, he should expect a similar level of shallowness.

4

Dan Hirschman 01.08.09 at 3:32 am

Have you seen Repo! The Genetic Opera? You might like it, and I think it’s playing in SF.

5

MH 01.08.09 at 3:42 am

“Your Honor, I was not harassing my ex-husband. I couldn’t return the kidney, so I did the next best that and put all that it produced through his mail slot with a funnel.”

6

tom s. 01.08.09 at 4:30 am

“the value of the kidney: $1.5 million” – This is ridiculous. Third hand kidneys never go for more than a mill.

7

M-H 01.08.09 at 4:52 am

That MH wasn’t me, but oh how I wish it were.

8

Jon H 01.08.09 at 4:55 am

Good lord, what an ass. Why doesn’t he do the obvious and argue her alimony should be sharply reduced because she already got her pound of flesh?

9

Mr T. 01.08.09 at 6:04 am

Another wacky ambit claim coming out of the US legal system. The problem is that some of them are successful, hence the warning on McDonalds coffee cups about the blindly obvious fact that coffee is hot.

I am not a lawyer, but I understand that it is not legal in the States to sell organs. Therefore, no value can be put on the kidney in question.

Can the kidney be re implanted in the husband?

the report does not have enough information to form a real view, but indications are that the guy is a prat. Why was it necessary to serve him on a trolley, Probably because he was avoiding being served. Serve him right.

He is giving another organ. Does he want to control their life as well? I don’t believe he has any legal right to do so. So why is trying to do so with his wife?

Purple Onion: there is no indication that she is a trophy wife. They have been married for 18 years, so that would lead me to assume otherwise. Besides, what relevance does that have?

10

Aidan Kehoe 01.08.09 at 7:03 am

Good lord, what an ass.

You are expecting maybe that he and his lawyer should be nice during acrimonious divorce proceedings?

11

Katherine 01.08.09 at 8:11 am

Maybe not nice, but he could perhaps refrain from being mind-bogglingly stupid. Honestly, what exactly does his he think a judge is going to say to this?

12

sg 01.08.09 at 8:38 am

Hey there is an episode of House about the pre-cursor moment to this! Where the woman gives her girlfriend the [insert organ] and reveals at the end of the show that she knew all along that the sick girlfriend had been cheating on her but “hey, she can’t leave me now, can she?”

I love it when life imitates art.

13

Brett Bellmore 01.08.09 at 11:18 am

“Yes, that’s what you do when they’re being a dick about it. Catch them when they can’t run away from getting served.”

It’s also what you do when YOU are being a dick about it. Catch them at the moment when you can twist the knife hardest. SOP, really, to put the man off balance for the rest of the proceedings. Can we at least admit as a theoretical proposition that it’s possible the woman is the obnoxious one here? This gender stereotyping, (It’s a divorce, the man must be the cad.) gets a bit tired after a while.

I really doubt he expects to get $1.5 million. Perhaps this was his way of reminding the judge that she’s already gotten something extremely valuable from him, and it ought to be taken into account when she’s trying to separate him from everything else of value he might chance to have.

14

dave 01.08.09 at 11:54 am

Divorce, it’s all about tactics. Here you may make your own analogies to the I/P conflict and unreasonable positions on both sides…

15

rea 01.08.09 at 12:36 pm

the warning on McDonalds coffee cups about the blindly obvious fact that coffee is hot

Ah, yes–the “McDonalds coffee” myth rears its ugly head again. Do you think it’s blindingly obvious that coffee is so hot that if you spill it on you it will cause third-degree burns requiring skin grafts? What would have happened to the poor woman if, instead of spilling it on herself, she gulped it down?

http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm

16

Mitchell Rowe 01.08.09 at 1:15 pm

In all fairness woulddn’t you be a little choked if someone divorced you after taking your kidney? Not that he should get it back, but I can see why he was mad.

17

dsquared 01.08.09 at 1:16 pm

#8: I was just thinking that surely the judgement ought to award him the kidney back, but with punitive costs for any blood (not part of the settlement, presumably) which he spilled.

18

dsquared 01.08.09 at 1:19 pm

I would also note that there is an extremely informative and useful graphic on the page Kieran links to, which explains the kidney transplant process perfectly.

19

Jay Livingston 01.08.09 at 2:04 pm

Certainly the cleverest subject line of 2009. (I guess “Presume not on thy kidney” wouldn’t scan, but the contrast with the original (“Thou gavest me thine, not to give back again”) is perfect.

20

fred lapides 01.08.09 at 2:11 pm

Should my wife decide to divorce me, I will sue for the many nights of great sexual pleasure I gave her, so fine that it made her a better and happier (at the time) person.

21

Barry 01.08.09 at 2:15 pm

Mr T. 01.08.09 at 6:04 am

“Another wacky ambit claim coming out of the US legal system. The problem is that some of them are successful, hence the warning on McDonalds coffee cups about the blindly obvious fact that coffee is hot.”

You might want to read:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v._McDonald%27s_Restaurants

22

Barry 01.08.09 at 2:17 pm

fred lapides 01.08.09 at 2:11 pm

“Should my wife decide to divorce me, I will sue for the many nights of great sexual pleasure I gave her, so fine that it made her a better and happier (at the time) person.”

Let’s see – you get paid $X for each orgasm you gave her; she gets paid $X for each orgasm she gave you. That might not be a winning strategy for you :)

23

ajay 01.08.09 at 2:19 pm

the report does not have enough information to form a real view, but indications are that the guy is a prat. Why was it necessary to serve him on a trolley, Probably because he was avoiding being served

He’s a doctor: probably when he said he was served “as he was going into surgery” he meant “in order to perform an operation”.

24

Jon H 01.08.09 at 2:48 pm

“He’s a doctor: probably when he said he was served “as he was going into surgery” he meant “in order to perform an operation”.”

Yeah, and? That’s a place where his presence would be predictable and where he couldn’t get away. It’d only be a major problem if he’d already scrubbed in, requiring him to do so again and delaying the operation, but I doubt they got to him at that stage.

Being served wouldn’t require a bunch of time on the surgeon’s part. It’s not like he has to drop everything and report to the courthouse right then. It’s just the act of handing him a document.

25

ajay 01.08.09 at 3:15 pm

24: I wasn’t trying to make a point: just correcting the poster at 9, who seemed to be under the impression that he was served “on a trolley”, ie that he was going into surgery as a patient rather than as a surgeon.

26

Mitchell Rowe 01.08.09 at 3:16 pm

Jon H
Would you like to be operated on by a doctor who had just been served with divorce papers? I mean he/she might not be at the very best right then…

27

kid bitzer 01.08.09 at 4:15 pm

personally, i feel for the wife’s lover.

i mean, having it off when her husband is there in the room with you?

okay–only part of her husband. but in very close proximity!

28

Sebastian 01.08.09 at 4:30 pm

He may be a good doctor, but I suspect he doesn’t understand the idea of ‘donate’ very well.

29

Kieran Healy 01.08.09 at 4:32 pm

I would also note that there is an extremely informative and useful graphic on the page Kieran links to, which explains the kidney transplant process perfectly.

A small masterpiece of information design, that one.

30

kid bitzer 01.08.09 at 4:37 pm

trouble with that graphic is, after seeing that, pretty much anyone could set up as a transplant surgeon.

nothing to it, really. just get the arrows lined up right, otherwise you’ve performed a lung transplant.

31

Aidan Kehoe 01.08.09 at 6:50 pm

dsquared, Kieran Healy; it doesn’t mention the important detail that donated kidney goes into the pelvis, not into the normal position of a non-donated kidney, roughly thoracic spinal segment level 12, which is a hellish position were one to operate.

32

rea 01.08.09 at 7:22 pm

into the pelvis, not into the normal position of a non-donated kidney, roughly thoracic spinal segment level 12, which is a hellish position were one to operate.

I make a point of never performing surgery from inside someones’s pelvis . . .

33

LizardBreath 01.08.09 at 8:10 pm

31: I found that out in conversation with my sister, a transplant surgeon, and found it surprisingly unsettling. Having someone else’s kidney transplanted into your body is one thing — having it transplanted into a significantly different location in your body than where your old kidney was, on the other hand, is really disturbing, at least to me.

34

Righteous Bubba 01.08.09 at 8:17 pm

Clearly she only owes him half the kidney.

35

Gary 01.08.09 at 9:08 pm

I think is original intent was to point out how badly wronged he was. Being cheated on and thrown aside by a wife of many years is pretty harsh stuff, and when you take into account that just a year or two prior to that, he had risked his life and probably shortened his life expectancy in order to give her a hunk of his body, its pretty vile. She should have been very kind to him and not asked for much in the divorce, considering all that she has already done.

36

kid bitzer 01.08.09 at 9:09 pm

do you see why i sympathized with the lover? even closer proximity than i’d thought!

“is that your husband there in your pelvis? oh; only part of him?”

the whole thing is unsettling.

37

LizardBreath 01.08.09 at 9:11 pm

I make a point of never performing surgery from inside someones’s pelvis . . .

Yeah, if you’re even partially inside someone’s pelvis, it’s probably more of a social occasion.

38

leederick 01.08.09 at 11:12 pm

“The guy is revealing a lot about himself. Maybe he should sue her for the value of all the little daily kindnesses he did for her. If any.”

I think this thread is very revealing about the liberal consensus on marital infidelity.

If you do something for someone and you did it because they lied to you, and they gain economic advantage from it or you suffer an economic loss, then that’s a very serious crime – it’s called fraud. We’re in exactly the same situation with regard to this as we were with domestic violence 50 years ago. On paper assault was criminal – and no-one would dispute this were it done to a stranger – but in practice beating your spouse was de facto legal, and no-one really though it was particularly a big deal except the victim.

There’s at least a prima facie case the guys been done a serious criminal harm. Of course he should be allowed to sue, and I see no reason the police shouldn’t get involved with the situation. I can’t fathom the crazy sentiments we get from the children of the 60s on this issue. The fact she was his wife does not excuse her causing him harm through decieving him, and he deserves the protection of the law.

39

Righteous Bubba 01.08.09 at 11:18 pm

There’s at least a prima facie case the guys been done a serious criminal harm.

Where’s the criminal harm?

40

libarbarian 01.08.09 at 11:27 pm

I really doubt he expects to get $1.5 million. Perhaps this was his way of reminding the judge that she’s already gotten something extremely valuable from him, and it ought to be taken into account when she’s trying to separate him from everything else of value he might chance to have.

“Batista said his aim instead was to draw attention to her not allowing him agreed-upon visitation with the couple’s three children, ages 14, 11 and 8.”http://www.newsday.com/news/local/ny-likidn0108,0,512593.story

Its odd that, in a dispute between a man who gave his wife a kidney despite their problems, and a woman who cheated on him, initiated the divorce, and then used her own children as pawns to hurt him, that He is the one presumed to be a dick.

He might well be one, and we have limited evidence, but give the evidence we do have Occams Razor clearly points to HER as the person most likely to be a total and complete piece of crap.

41

lemuel pitkin 01.08.09 at 11:40 pm

I gather certain partners have defaulted.
Allegedly the organs acting for them
Vanished when they decided to withdraw them.
Loopholes were found: something that must be halted.

Recourse to law would seem the only way
To get those organs duly confiscated.
Perhaps each partner then can be persuaded

To check again on what the contracts say.
If they won’t do so, someone’s sure to send
The bailiffs in — a most unhappy end.

42

Watson Aname 01.08.09 at 11:40 pm

To the contrary, libarbarian, we know he’s at least this one time carrying through dickheadish bad judgement, there being no other way to describe this stunt. And we know very little about her at all, or the other parameters of their relationship.

Everything else (in your post and others more taking her side) are nearly pure supposition, considering the available sources.

43

lemmy caution 01.08.09 at 11:46 pm

His attorney dominic barbara used to be on the howard stern show all the time.

44

Righteous Bubba 01.08.09 at 11:53 pm

In a further misuse of Occam’s Razor, he’s got kind of a dicky moustache.

45

Barry Freed 01.09.09 at 12:22 am

do you see why i sympathized with the lover? even closer proximity than i’d thought!
“is that your husband there in your pelvis? oh; only part of him?”
the whole thing is unsettling.

Additonally, think of the possibilty of gender confusion issues arising. I mean it’s almost as if she has her ex-husband’s penis too.

46

Mr T. 01.09.09 at 1:32 am

Barry 01.08.09 at 2:15 pm and
rea 01.08.09 at 12:36 pm

Thanks for the links with extra information. With the full facts let me adjust my comment on the american legal system with regards to the McDonalds coffee case.

Why a judge decided that the plaintiff was only 20% at fault astounds me. Any moron knows that coffee is hot, and in a car, is likely to spill

Sorry for going off topic

47

Barry 01.09.09 at 12:26 pm

Gee, you think? The point was that McDonald’s deliberately served their coffee at a temperature where a spill would very likely result in serious injury, despite a large number of reports of such injuries. It’s odd, because I was able to discern that. Also, not in the article, but something that I heard was that the attorney for McDonald’s described the hundreds of burns as ‘statistically insiginificant’. Not a good thing to say in front of a jury.

In the end, that case is an excellent example of right-wingers being able to spin things.

48

kid bitzer 01.09.09 at 2:20 pm

barry freed–

oddly enough, worries about gender confusion had not reared their heads in my mind.

i have a pretty impeccable record of distinguishing penises from kidneys, so even when i tried to put myself in the lover’s…shoes, that problem did not suggest itself.

49

salient 01.09.09 at 11:42 pm

The point was that McDonald’s deliberately served their coffee at a temperature where a spill would very likely result in serious injury, despite a large number of reports of such injuries. It’s odd, because I was able to discern that.

True. And they’ve changed practices, we should observe. Does anyone else remember those days when McDonald’s coffee was so hot you couldn’t drink it for a good fifteen minutes, leaving it cap-open to cool? Maybe it was different by location, but whew, I remember that. My mother and I used to go for coffee (it was the only cheap-coffee-serving location within walking distance), and we’d have to leave the caps off for half our time there. I’d put ice in it. I also remember remarking to someone, upon news of the lawsuit, “hey, maybe they’ll stop serving their coffee at a temperature hot enough to melt aluminum.” They just nodded: it seemed like a perfectly sensible statement.

I’ve spilled coffee on my lap, fresh from the pot at home, without serious injury to anything but my khakis and ego. I’ve spilled coffee on my hand at Starbucks, and just wiped it off with a napkin, no severe harm done, just mild discomfort. McDonald’s coffee at the McDonald’s closest to my house (in high school) was unusually, ungodly hot, and I doubt that location was unique in this respect.

I suspect the degree of sarcastic vitriol that gets thrown around when the lawsuit comes up is actually due to our very loose working definition of “hot” (and I suspect the vitriol comes mostly from people who don’t drink coffee). Coffee is served hot. But molten lead is also hot. Coffee can be served reasonably or unreasonably hot, and in the latter case, frankly it’s only ethical to offer your customers some fair warning!

50

Barry 01.10.09 at 12:10 am

Yes; if I poured a cup of coffee fresh from the pot and handed it to you, you’d handle it with care. If I first put it into the microwave for a minute, and handed it to you then, you’d probably put it on the counter first, to cool it. Because you’d know d*mn well that one slip and the God of Pain would be spending quality time with you.

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