Members of the Jesus Christians cult will be investigated over reports they lied to Victorian health authorities so they could donate their kidneys to strangers needing transplants, a spokesman for Health Minister Bronwyn Pike said.
In Australia, kidney donations are banned from anyone apart from a recipient’s family members and friends and others with an emotional connection.
The ban is designed to prevent organs being sold on the black market.
The minister’s spokesman said an investigation had been ordered following reports of two cases in Victoria.
The government was concerned by reports that cult members had feigned long relationships with organ recipients to secure approvals for their donations, he said.
Concerns were held that if the donors were lying about their relationships with recipients, they might also be willing to lie about their health, he said.
“It’s not a great thing to lie to a doctor, but if they are lying about that, you wonder what else they are lying about,” the spokesman said.
“There was a case in the last few weeks where a few people died in the US because they got organs from someone who had rabies.”
The minister’s spokesman said the government wanted guidelines established in Australia for altruistic organ donations.
He said this would prevent discrimination about who received an organ.
It would also ensure donors received a psychological assessment and were given a full explanation about the implications of organ donation.
The Jesus Christians cult was founded in Melbourne in 1982 and uses the internet to preach its teachings.
Comment was being sought from Jesus Christians.
July 6, 2004