How Harvesting Organs from a Dead Abortion Patient Thwarted Justice

father's donation refusal-highlighted2

An Operation Rescue Special Report
By Cheryl Sullenger

Cleveland, OH — When Lakisha Wilson renewed her driver’s license on May 25, 2012, she checked the permission box to become an organ donor. She had no idea that she would be dead less than two years later, or that a simple flick of the pen at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles would become a roadblock to preventing those responsible for her death from being held accountable.

Lakisha Wilson was a 22-year old African-American woman who died in March 2014, as the result of second trimester abortion complications at Preterm, an abortion facility located in Cleveland, Ohio.

Her death not only raised questions about patient safety at the high-volume abortion business, but also brought to light another extremely sensitive issue that has rarely been discussed — until now. That issue concerns the high-pressure tactics of organ procurement organizations to secure organ donation consent from families of women like Wilson, who die from abortion complications and other surgeries.

The news has been full of reports in recent months about organ procurement companies contracting with Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses to obtain aborted baby remains for “donation,” often to the financial benefit of both the abortion provider and the organ procurement organization. However, there is another aspect to the issue of organ procurement involving dead abortion patients, which also deserves public discussion.

Certainly, organ donation to those in need of transplants is a noble and life-saving decision under most circumstances. At any given time, there are over 121,000 people awaiting organ transplants in the U.S. It is true that some tragically die before a suitable donor can be found.

“We support those who wish to willingly become organ donors. In most cases, it saves lives and gives the families of donors comfort knowing that the death of their loved one will enable others to live,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “However, in Lakisha Wilson’s case, we have serious concerns about how the donation process was handled, and how it may have actually protected those responsible for her death.”

Second-Trimester Abortion Gone Bad

Wilson’s nightmare began on March 21, 2014, when she reported to the Preterm abortion clinic on Shaker Boulevard in Cleveland, Ohio, for an abortion at 19 weeks, 4 days, according to a Preterm ultrasound report that was done about two weeks earlier. (Ultrasound results from a different facility placed her closer to 23 weeks at the time of her abortion.)

Wilson suffered almost immediate complications during her second trimester abortion, which was conducted by Preterm abortionist Lisa Perriera. Even though Wilson’s blood pressure was dropping fast, Perriera finished the abortion before tending to Wilson’s dangerously escalating medical emergency. By then, Wilson had stopped breathing and suffered cardiac arrest.

perriera-wilson-procurement

According to public 911 records obtained through open records requests and medical records leaked to Operation Rescue, it was about thirty minutes after Wilson suffered respiratory arrest that an ambulance was finally called. A Preterm employee told a 911 dispatcher that Wilson was “not breathing at all.” EMS workers arriving at the scene (after a delay caused by a malfunctioning elevator) noted that Wilson indeed was not breathing. Her pupils were fixed and dilated. They were able to restart her heart and provide oxygenation by “bagging” her.

Wilson was eventually transported to the University Hospital Case Medical Center where she was evaluated and given four units of packed red blood cells to treat an apparent hemorrhage that was the source of her cardio-respiratory failure. She was transferred to the Intensive Care unit, placed on life support, and listed in critical but stable condition.

Somewhere along the way, it was determined that Wilson was “brain dead.”

Lifebanc

At the University Hospital Case Medical Center, an organ procurement organization (OPO) called Lifebanc began evaluating Wilson for organ harvesting.

Lifebanc is a non-profit OPO based in Cleveland, which claims to work with 20 Ohio hospitals to:

• Identify donors.
• Match them to patients on the National Transplant Waiting List.
• Arrange for the harvesting of organs by teams of surgeons.
• Arrange transport to hospitals for transplantation into suitable recipients.

OPOs look for donor candidates among those who are hospitalized due to life-threatening brain injuries as the result of traffic accidents, strokes, or lack of oxygen, according to a video posted on Lifebanc’s web site, which was produced by OrganDonor.gov a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Family Approached

After Wilson’s family was notified that Lakisha had been taken to the hospital, they rushed to be by her side only to learn that their worst fears were realized. As they gathered in a hospital waiting room in shock and disbelief, a representative — allegedly from Preterm — first approached them, seeking permission to harvest Wilson’s organs.

Wilson’s grief-stricken family looked at the Preterm representative as part of the reason why their loved one lay comatose in a hospital bed hooked to machines that artificially controlled her life functions.

There were questions about Lakisha’s death – questions that had not been answered. How could a healthy 22-year old woman die from what everyone said was one of the safest and common surgical procedures in America? What went wrong and who was responsible?

Wilson’s family refused to sign the consent forms so that the organ harvesting could begin.

Thus began a high-pressure effort to secure the family’s permission to harvest Wilson’s organs.

High Demand

Organdonor-chartWhy were Wilson’s organs wanted so badly?

Since African Americans are more prone to suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure than other racial groups, they are more prone to organ failure.

It is true that organs are not supposed to be matched to donors based on race, but there are certain important blood type characteristics and tissue markers that are shared more often between people of the same racial make-up. These markers help determine transplant compatibility.

In America, about 30% of all organ recipients are African American, making them the largest minority population in need of organs for transplant. However, this racial group comprises only about 18% of all organ donors. Therefore, there exists a critical shortage of organs compatible for transplant into those of African American heritage.

As a young, healthy African American woman, who succumbed to a lack of oxygen to the brain, Wilson’s organs would have been in high demand.

Father Adamant about Not Consenting

Over the course of the next few days, Lifebanc had a vested interest in Lakisha Wilson.

At first, all testing on Wilson was ordered by hospital physicians. But on March 26, that changed.

Lifebanc ran a search of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles Organ Donor database and discovered that Wilson had given her consent to “make an anatomical gift” of her organs upon her death.

Suspicious Circumstances2With this document in hand, Lifebanc did not need the family to consent before the organ harvesting could begin. That same day, it ordered testing to ensure that life support devices were properly placed and that Wilson’s organs were in good condition.

The next day, Wilson’s father was again approached by Lifebanc with the request to harvest Lakisha’s organs. He adamantly refused to sign any documents. In fact, Wilson’s records include a hand-written note signed by Wilson’s dad, which read:

March 27, 2014. Life banc [sic] my daughter Lakisha Wilson died under suspicious circumstances. At this time the Cuyahoga County Coroner is investigating the cause of died [sic]. I adamantly refuse to sign papers giving my consent for organ donation. Life banc [sic] personnel are strongly aware of my concerns.

Lifebanc chose to ignore Wilson’s father. Paperwork was processed that noted her father’s refusal to complete or sign any of the consent and policy forms. While Lifebanc’s actions were technically legal, they were ethically dubious.

Organs Procured

Over the next two days, March 27 and 28, Lifebanc ordered additional testing on Wilson to make sure her organs remained disease free and in good condition for harvesting and transplant while the paperwork was processed. Wilson wasn’t treated like a person any more. She had become a commodity.

On March 28, against the expressed wishes of her family, and knowing that there were questions about Wilson’s care and treatment during her fatal abortion, Lifebanc essentially gutted Lakisha Wilson and removed nearly every basic internal organ, including her heart, lungs, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, abdominal aorta, inferior vena cava, kidneys, ureters, adrenal glands and their adjacent connective tissue.

Autopsy on Incomplete Cadaver

Thus, when the coroner, Dr. Joseph A. Felo, received what was left of Lakisha Wilson’s body, he was forced to conduct an autopsy on a partial cadaver. He also lacked the remains of Wilson’s aborted baby, and had to rely on Preterm’s medical records for certain “facts” about the supposed gestational age of her pregnancy.

Felo concluded in Wilson’s autopsy that she died from cardiac arrest resulting in brain damage from oxygen deprivation, a known complication to a therapeutic abortion. In an interview with an investigator with the Ohio Department of Health, Felo explained that because cardiac arrest is a known complication to a therapeutic abortion, Wilson death “did not indicate medical malpractice.”

However, his conclusions were based on insufficient data. Why had Wilson hemorrhaged and why wasn’t her condition treated in time by Preterm’s abortionist, Lisa Perriera? Why did she wait a half hour after Wilson stopped breathing to call 911?

Lakisha&Flowers

Without Lakisha’s organs or her babies’ remains, there was no way to determine the full extent of complications or whether Preterm staff members were telling the truth.

Just as Wilson’s father feared if organ donation were to take place, the “suspicious circumstances” under which his daughter died would never be sufficiently explained.

“This complete disregard for the wishes of the family or consideration for the circumstances of Wilson’s death make Lifebanc’s actions troubling,” said Newman. “Wilson was kept on life support for days — not to treat her, but for the sole purpose of keeping her organs viable for harvesting and transplant.”

$25 Million per Year

lifebanc logoLifebanc is a non-profit organization that takes in about $25 million each year. According the company’s 990 tax report from 2013, the most recent year available, Lifebanc ended that fiscal year with net assets totaling more than $14 million.

The Chief Executive Officer of Lifebanc is Gordon Bowen, whose salary $253,000 yearly with over $43,000 in additional compensation.

Lifebanc’s Medical Director is Dr. Daniel Lebovitz, a Cleveland-based pediatrician who to be affiliated with a number of Ohio hospitals. His annual salary in 2013 from Lifebanc alone was $101, 347.

“There appears to be good money in the organ procurement business,” said Newman. “Combine a case with high-demand organs with financial incentives, and it looks like we have a recipe for high-pressure tactics to obtain consent for organ donation that include ignoring a family’s wishes and the need for a thorough investigation into a suspicious death.”

Others Targeted

Wilson is not the only patient suffering an abortion-related death that has been targeted for organ donation.

In 2005, Christin Gilbert, a 19-year old with Down syndrome, died from complications to a third-trimester abortion in Wichita, Kansas. Since Gilbert succumbed to sepsis, an infection that caused several of her organs to fail, only her eyes were harvested for eventual corneal transplant.

Free to Kill Again

In Gilbert’s case, the abortionists involved in her death, LeRoy Carhart and George Tiller, were absolved of responsibility. This time, it was not due to the inability to reach conclusions due to harvested organs, but for politically-motivated reasons. Because he was never held accountable, Carhart was free to kill again.

On February 7, 2014, he did just that. Another of Carhart’s third-trimester abortion patients, Jennifer Morbelli, died from complications. Her organs were too compromised to be suitable for donation. Again, Carhart was not held responsible. There is a likelihood that yet another of his abortion patients will die.

It is true that donating organs saves lives, and that is indeed noble. However, abortion-related deaths pose unique situations that should be taken into consideration by organ donation companies.

When organ donation conceals the incompetency of abortionists, as may have occurred in the Wilson case, this could leave a dangerous abortionist to kill again. Lives are endangered by the inability to perform a thorough autopsy on a complete cadaver and get to the bottom of what happened to cause the deaths of otherwise healthy women.

Michael Crichton’s “Coma”

keep organs viableThe Wilson tragedy hearkens to mind the Michael Crichton’s 1978 movie “Coma.” In that story, a patient is placed under anesthesia for a routine abortion. As her vital signs began to deteriorate, the abortionist finished the abortion then tried in vain to awaken her. The anesthesiology noted that the patient’s eyes were fixed and dilated.

In the movie, arrangements were then made to place the patient on life support and transfer her to a facility where her body would be maintained indefinitely. However, when the patient suddenly dies, it prompts another physician to investigate. It was discovered that at the secondary facility, the organs of comatose patients were auctioned off to the highest bidder. Of course, in the movie, the illegal black market organ-selling scheme is uncovered and the guilty are punished.

Certainly, no one is saying that the deaths of abortion patients are on purpose or that their organs are being illegally sold.

However, there is a profit motive for organ procurement companies to ignore the unique situations posed by abortion-related deaths. When this motive hinders an investigation and allows a dangerous abortionist to go free, it poses a very real moral conflict.

“Understanding why healthy women are dying at abortion clinics and identifying incompetent abortionists can also save lives,” said Newman. “The risk of further abortion deaths should outweigh an organ procurement company’s goal of organ harvesting and the financial remuneration that accompanies it. What happened to Lakisha Wilson was wrong, and we cannot allow it to happen again to someone else.”

Videos: 911 Calls Confirm Carhart Nearly Killed One Abortion Patient, Seriously Injured Another

By Cheryl Sullenger

Germantown, MD – Despite heavy redactions made by the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, 911 recordings just obtained by Operation Rescue reveal that two of LeRoy Carhart’s late-term abortion patients suffered life-threatening medical emergencies with days of each other with one of the woman coming close to death.

Ambulances were filmed at Germantown Reproductive Health Services (GRHS), a late-term abortion facility located in Germantown, Maryland, where Carhart conducts abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy, on March 20, March 30, and April 4, 2016.

There was no 911 call available for the incident on March 30, when a private ambulance was employed to transport a Carhart abortion patient.

However, 911 recordings were available for medical emergencies at GRHS that occurred on March 20 and April 4.

During an unusual Sunday call on March 20, GRHS Clinic Administrator Ashley Mouktafi can be heard making a desperate plea for immediate assistance:

We’re having some really bad vitals. We need somebody here now!

The rest of Mouktafi’s answers to the dispatcher’s questions about what happened and the patient’s condition were redacted from the recording, but witnesses on the scene described the woman as an “underage” patient. Scanner traffic indicated that the patient was suffering from “heart problems.” The dispatcher’s questioning was consistent with a possible heart attack.

During Sunday appointments, Carhart routinely sees only abortion patients who are far advanced into their pregnancies. The first appointment in the late-term abortion process involves giving the patient a shot of digoxin or other drug through the abdomen and into the baby to cause “fetal demise.” Thin dilator rods are then inserted into the opening of the cervix to slowly expand it in preparation for labor and delivery of the dead baby. Delivery of the baby’s remains can take place on day two, three, or four of the procedure, depending on the gestational age of the baby. Generally, the later the pregnancy, the longer the abortion process takes – and the riskier it becomes. [Read more about how late-term abortions are done.]

Based on what is known about how Carhart’s abortion business operates, it is most likely that something went wrong either during the digoxin injection or during the laminaria insertion.

“Could it be that Carhart muffed the digoxin shot and somehow injected the lethal drug into his patient? We may never know,” said Newman. “But we do know that this young girl was transported to the hospital where she had to undergo rigorous emergency treatment. This fits the very definition of a botched procedure.”

On April 4, Mouktufi again dialed 911 for another late-term abortion patient. While her responses to the dispatcher’s questions about the patient’s condition were again heavily redacted, the line of questioning was consistent with a patient who was suffering from uncontrolled bleeding.

This was corroborated by radio traffic, earlier obtained by Operation Rescue, which indicated paramedics were responding to an emergency involving “hemorrhage.”

Witnesses with the Maryland Coalition for Life tell Operation Rescue that the rest of the day’s appointments at GRHS were cancelled and all patients were sent home after the injured woman was transported.

Carhart patients have been transported from GRHS by ambulance six times in the past five months. Combined with similar incidents at Carhart’s Nebraska abortion facility, 14 Carhart abortion patients have been hospitalized since 2012.

“With Carhart’s advanced age and the increasing frequency of life-threatening abortion emergencies, it becomes obvious that competency issues must be addressed,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “Carhart is a proven menace that has already killed two patients and continues to pose a serious danger to woman. If the Maryland Medical Board continues to turn a blind eye to this growing danger, there is no doubt that Carhart will kill again — as he nearly did just a few days ago.”

Please join us in contacting the Maryland Board of Physicians to tell them to shut Carhart down.

Maryland Board of Physicians (Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene):
Voice: 410-764-4777
E-mail: dhmh.healthmd@maryland.gov

(Corrected phone number)

Recent Carhart Medical Emergencies

3302016 GRHS ambulance transport

April 4, 2016, Germantown, MD: Hemorrhaging late-term abortion patient transported to emergency room. All other patients sent home. (Video, 911 recording, Scanner audio)
March 30, 2016, Germantown, MD: Private ambulance called for late-term abortion patient. (Video, 911 recording, Scanner audio)
March 20, 2016, Germantown, MD: Underaged woman transported to Shady Grove Hospital suffering “heart problems.” (Video, 911 recording, Scanner audio)
February 4, 2016, Bellevue, NE: Woman transported to hospital suffering from an incomplete abortion. (Video)
January 19, 2016, Germantown, MD: Late-term abortion patient bleeding seriously transported to hospital. (Video and 911 recording)
December 15, 2015, Germantown, MD: Abortion patient transported to emergency room while Carhart accompanies.
July 2, 2014, Germantown, MD: African-American abortion patient transported to hospital.
April 26, 2014, Bellevue, NE: Patient, 37, suffered from abdominal pain after Carhart had an “issue with the procedure.” (Video with 911 recording)
March 4, 2014, Germantown, MD: Patient hemorrhaged after 2nd trimester abortion complications.
November 30, 2013, Bellevue, NE: Patient suffered 2nd trimester abortion complications.
November 26, 2013, Germantown, MD: Patient required emergency surgery. (Video with 911 recording)
July 9, 2013, Germantown, MD: Patient hemorrhaged. (Video with 911 recording)
February 7, 2013, Germantown, MD: Patient Jennifer Morbelli died of 3rd trimester abortion complications. (Autopsy Report)
March 31, 2012, Bellevue, NE: Patient heard moaning and screaming during 911 call (Video with 911 recording.)

The Inconvenient Truth About Texas Abortion Wait Times & Costs No One Wants to Admit

Abortion Appt Wait TImes-TX

By Cheryl Sullenger

Austin, TX — There is no doubt that the Texas abortion safety law known as HB2, which is currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, has had an impact on decreasing abortions in Texas.

However, recent news stories are just not getting it right when they discuss the extent of the law’s impact on abortion wait times, abortion costs, and even the decrease in the number of abortions in Texas. Conclusions that are being drawn in the main-stream media are not based on the hard facts, but on emotional anecdotes provided by abortion businesses that have a vested interest in convincing the public and legal decision-makers that abortion laws are bad for women.

“What we are seeing now is an orchestrated propaganda campaign in the left-leaning mainstream media to discredit abortion safety laws such as those passed in Texas. This is more about pushing a radical abortion agenda on the American people that reporting the facts,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “But when you look at the actual data, as we have, the media’s brazen attempt at public manipulation on the subject of abortion is exposed.”

Operation Rescue has compiled data that clearly debunks the current media hysteria over supposed long wait times and higher abortion costs in Texas. This data was submitted to the Supreme Court in an amici curiae brief filed on behalf of Operation Rescue by the Liberty Counsel in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, Case 15-274.

From December 1-15, 2015, Operation Rescue staff members placed over 1,000 direct calls to each abortion facility in the U.S. and spoke directly with abortion clinic workers about abortion wait times and pricing. That data was analyzed and comparisons were made between Texas and other states to see if Texas women were actually forced to wait “weeks” for abortions and paying more than women in other states.

Texas abortion wait times fall below national average

Average Wait

Operation Rescue’s meticulously gathered data shows that the average waiting time for abortions in the U.S. is 8.5 days. That is measured from the time a potential patient calls to schedule an appointment to the day the procedure can actually be done.
In Texas, with the new safety law in effect, the average wait time for an abortion appointment 6.5 days – a full two days under the national average.

The New York Times lamented in a recent article that abortion wait times were driving women out of state. To support their presupposition, they presented anecdotes from women who sought abortions around Christmas time and into January.

However, Operation Rescue’s survey took place before Christmas. Surveyors discovered that many abortion providers curtailed office hours due to the holidays.

In fact, it was the curtailed hours that contributed to the post-holiday increase in abortion wait times – not abortion laws, as the New York Times would have the public believe.

“The New York Times piece was nothing but shameless yellow journalism. It is doubtful if anyone in the main-stream media ever bothered to check on actual appointment wait times or costs before claiming that the sky is falling on women in Texas,” said Newman. “The fact is that Texas falls well below the national average for wait times and surgical abortion costs, and we have the data to prove it.”

Comparing abortion appointment wait times to those for dentist appointments reveals the hype and scare tactics used by abortion supporters to oppose common-sense safety laws. While a woman might wait a little over a week for an abortion, she will wait about five weeks to see her dentist. This makes getting an abortion easier than getting a tooth filled.

Texas abortion costs below national average

Average Abortion Cost-TX

Operation Rescue also found that the national average cost of a first trimester surgical abortion in the U.S. is $594.74, while the average cost of a medication abortion is $568.50.

In Texas, where abortion supporters complain that the costs have become prohibitively expensive due to new regulations, surgical abortions cost an average of $578.47, which is $16.27 below the national average.

Medication abortions cost an average of $591.67 in Texas, slightly above the national average. However, there are 17 states that are more expensive than Texas for the abortion pill.

One of the reasons that medication abortions are slightly more expensive in Texas than surgical abortions is due to the fact that there are no medication-only abortion facilities in that state.

Operation Rescue’s meticulous research uncovered an inconvenient truth: Medication abortions prescribed at facilities that also conduct surgical abortions cost more than the same medication abortions prescribed at facilities that do not do surgical abortions.

Yet, for all their complaining about reduced abortion access and higher costs, Texas abortion businesses have not bothered to make the lower-overhead facilities a priority, even though they drive down costs for their abortion customers.

“This shows that the Abortion Cartel places a higher priority on surgical abortions than on medication abortions,” said Newman. “This is probably because the pricier surgical abortions take about five minutes and the abortionist never has to see those patients again, while the medication abortions often require more than one visit. This means there is more profit in the surgical abortions, and we have found that profit motives trump any other consideration within the abortion industry.”

Abortion decreases

Decrease-TX

As for the drop in Texas abortion numbers, Operation Rescue examined the official statistics from the Texas Department of State Health Services and found that the numbers currently bandied about in news stories are not in line with official numbers released by the state.

But what is worse is that the numbers are used to frighten people into believing that having babies is bad, when in fact, it is the brutal killing of innocent babies in the womb that is an evil act.

For example, the Texas Tribune has reported that the number of abortions done in Texas were 63,168 in 2013, but the Texas Department of State Health Services puts the official number of 2013 abortions at 61,912 – a discrepancy of 1,256 abortions.

The Texas Tribune further states that according to “preliminary” abortion numbers for 2014, there were 54,191 abortions done in Texas in 2014, “almost 9,000 fewer procedures in the state compared to the year before.”

However, subtracting the supposed 2014 numbers from the official 2013 total number of abortions in Texas, we find that there were 7,721 fewer abortions in 2014 over the previous year – not “almost 9,000.” The lower number represents just under a 12% decrease in abortions in 2014, which is significant, but not as dramatic as it sounds when one considers the average yearly decrease in abortion numbers over the previous three years was 6.13%.

Yet, news articles erroneously spin the inflated reduction in abortions as proof that the clinic closures pose an “undue burden” on women.

Why the mainstream media would inflate the number of fewer abortions in Texas? Why would they claim women have to wait ‘weeks’ for abortions when they don’t. Why do reporters complain about the high cost of abortions in Texas when prices are actually below the national average?

There are two plausible answers. One is that the numbers used were accidentally inaccurate. The other is more sinister.

“It is more likely that over-inflated numbers and other hysterical rhetoric about long wait times and high costs are being purposely used by a leftist media to promote a radical abortion agenda. To stop similar set-backs for their friends in the Abortion Cartel, pro-abortion news organizations are attempting to manipulate the public into believing that the Texas abortion law is harming women. That isn’t journalism. That’s fabrication,” said Newman.

From examining the actual data regarding abortion wait times and costs, it is clear that the Texas abortion law HB2 has not posed an “undue burden” on women. In fact, abortions are actually cheaper and easier to get in Texas than they are in several other states. The decrease in abortion numbers that some treat as a harbinger of disaster, should be applauded as a positive step in the right direction toward protecting innocent life.

“The reality is that women are better off without predatory abortion businesses trying to sell them services they do not need. Pregnant women don’t need abortions. Instead of using killing to solve problems, women need love, support, and practical assistance from their friends, families and communities to help them work through the issues they face,” said Newman. “In Texas and the rest of the nation, we still have much work to do before women and babies are truly protected.”