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Wednesday, 30 May 1984
Page: 2137


Senator JONES —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Has the attention of the Minister for Health been drawn to a segment screened on 60 Minutes last Sunday, 27 May, which disclosed that eyes have been illegally removed from a number of deceased patients at a hospital for transplantation? Has the Minister called for a report on these allegations? Has there been any infringement of Commonwealth laws in respect of these allegations ? Can any action be taken against those who charge for services involving the transplantation of illegally obtained eyes? Can any action be taken against doctors and other unqualified hospital staff who remove eyes from deceased patients either without their prior permission or without the permission of relatives? Can doctors who conspire to obtain eyes from illegal sources be prosecuted if they claim on Medicare after transplant operations? Has the Minister for Health any evidence that similar practices are occurring at any other hospital in Australia?


Senator GRIMES —I would assume that the references to the program have been drawn to the attention of the Minister for Health, Dr Blewett. I know that he would not have seen the program at the time it was screened because he and I were on a plane between Adelaide and Canberra at that time. I have no information from the Minister for Health about any action he has taken or any suggested actions he might take, as implied in Senator Jones's question. I will refer the whole matter to the Minister for Health and seek an early reply.