January 8, 2009

Man demands $1.5M, or kidney, in divorce

A New York state man whose wife filed for divorce is demanding $1.5 million or the return of one very special gift -- his kidney.

Dominic Barbara, an attorney for Dr. Richard Batista of Ronkonkoma, said the demand was added Wednesday to his client's countersuit, which was filed in 2005 after his wife, Dawnell Batista, 44, filed for divorce, Newsday reported Thursday.

Barbara said Batista does not actually expect his wife to return the kidney he donated to her in 2001. Instead, the demand is aimed at calling attention to Dawnell Batista blocking his previously agreed-upon visitation with their three children, ages 14, 11 and 8.

Does he really want the kidney back? Of course not, Barbara said.

Medical ethicists said the kidney demand is unlikely to yield Batista an organ or the $1.5 million.

It's illegal for an organ to be exchanged for anything of value, said Robert Veatch, a medical ethicist at Georgetown University's Kennedy Institute of Ethics. When you give something, you can't get it back.