Organ harvesting plot: Interpreter tried to help transplant bid – court

A hospital interpreter tried to help persuade doctors to approve an illegal kidney transplant for the daughter of a Nigerian politician, a court has heard.

Evelyn “Ebere” Agbasonu allegedly asked for £1,500 to help secure Sonia Ekweremadu’s £80,000 transplant at a north London hospital in February 2022.

The prosecution claims the procedure was not legal as the organ donor had no altruistic motive or family connection with the recipient.

Four defendants deny the allegations.

Ms Ekweremadu, 25, her father Ike, 60, and her mother Beatrice, 56, who all have an address in Willesden Green are standing trial.

Dr Obinna Obeta, 50, from Southwark, who has been described as the medical middleman, has also been accused of the charges.

The Old Bailey has been told the “transactional” deal had involved a 21-year-old donor, a street trader from Lagos, who agreed to the harvesting of his body part for up to £7,000 and the promise of opportunities in the UK.

Ms Agbasonu was a long-standing member of staff at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead where she worked as a medical secretary, jurors heard.

She had stepped in to interpret Igbo during an initial meeting on 24 February between Dr Peter Dupont and the donor from Nigeria, who spoke little English.

The consultant had concluded the young man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was not an appropriate candidate and appeared relieved that the transplant would not go ahead, the court heard.

Prosecutor Hugh Davies KC said it was “somewhat extraordinary” that, according to messages from others, Ms Agbasonu appeared to agree to manipulate a second meeting to the advantage of the Ekweremadu family.

Ike Ekweremadu’s medically trained brother Diwe Ekweremadu allegedly sent his daughter advice from the interpreter to show a clear family connection with the donor.

Jurors heard he told Sonia Ekweremadu: “Ebere said it would be easier to establish that his mum and your mum are sisters. If we stretch it to the grandmum and grandmum the relationship will be too distant.”

Ms Ekweremadu allegedly replied: “OK that’s fine.”

Diwe Ekweremadu then allegedly laid out the financial agreement to her father, saying he had “met the Igbo interpreter” and “she agreed to work with us”, which would also involve “coaching the boy”.

“She insisted that I give her £1,500. I think they just position themselves to exploit people,” the court was told he said.

He allegedly added that after a meeting with Ms Agbasonu, she had “advised that (the donor) comes to the hospital on Tuesday and Thursday while Chinoso (Sonia) is having her dialysis.

“Psychologically everyone in the team will have to accept that he’s really committed to his cousin’s health and it usually makes it easier to accept the person for the procedure,” he said.

Mr Davies suggested the messages demonstrated the opposite of an altruistic organ donation.

‘She covered up for him’

On 11 March, the donor attended a meeting with another surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital and the interpreter, the court heard.

Afterwards, Diwe Ekweremadu allegedly messaged Ike Ekweremadu: “I have spoken with (the interpreter). She said the boy did better today but he’s still showing so much timidity.

“She covered up for him and added the words as much as possible.”

Mr Davies told jurors following the meeting, the surgeon agreed with Dr Dupont that the donor was unsuitable and Ms Ekweremadu was informed of the decision on 29 March.

The court also heard Dr Obeta had trained at medical school with Diwe Ekweremadu, who remains in Nigeria and is not on trial.

The defendants all deny conspiring to arrange or facilitate the travel of the young man with a view to exploitation between 1 August 2021 and 5 May 2022.

The trial continues.


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