Did the French footballer Éric Abidal receive a part of his cousin's liver in Barcelona in 2012?
Initially, it's a beautiful transplant story. An adventure both human and medical. With as main protagonists of a soap opera very media, a football star and a cousin named Gérard.
But this beautiful story is now tainted with doubts. With a question on which will have to decide the Spanish justice: Éric Abidal has he been grafted with a part of the liver given by his cousin? The judges want to verify that this transplant was not done through organ trafficking.
A liver given by an altruistic cousin or bought?
Everything starts in March-April 2012 in Barcelona. To cure his cancer, Éric Abidal, French defender of the Barça team, benefits from a liver transplant. Thanks to a half-liver (1) given by his cousin Gérard, the son of his father's sister. A free gift as required by Spanish law. And the media then largely tell the saga of the football star saved thanks to his altruistic cousin. After his convalescence, Abidal plays a little and then becomes a leader of Barça.
But in July 2018, a sudden blow. The site El Confidencial publishes records of Sandro Rosell, the former president of Barça, suggesting that the club illegally bought a liver for his player. A serious accusation. Organ trafficking is indeed a reality, regularly denounced by the World Health Organization (WHO). According to this authority, 3 to 10% of kidneys transplanted worldwide, for example, would be purchased, or 5,000 to 7,000 per year.
Transplants, how far?
Examinations on the cousin?
Eric Abidal, Barça and the Spanish organization of organ donations say that everything went according to the rules. But the parquet floor of Barcelona asks that cousin Gérard be subjected to examinations to verify that he gave his liver. In October, the examining magistrate replied that French law can not force her to submit to these examinations.
But the week of January 28, magistrates of the provincial hearing of Barcelona announced that they wished to relaunch the procedure after having noted possible abnormalities in the procedure of the donation of organ.
It remains to be seen whether justice will hear the doctors having grafted Éric Abidal. At the end of July, in the Catalan daily The Vanguardia, they assured that it was the half-liver of Gerard they took in 2012. They added that it, before the operation, had been questioned for three hours, that his identity had been verified and that he had so assured that it was not under the pressure that he agreed to donate. The transplant doctors finally claimed that the file had been validated by the clinic's ethics committee and then by a judge.
"I wondered if they had not opened me for nothing"
" Are you an organ trafficker? That's the question that The Dispatch of the South asked in late July cousin Gerard, who works in a factory in Toulouse. " No ! I am a father who works and raises his children with their mother Replied the 36-year-old man, assuring that he had not touched " one cent To make this gift.
" I still drive in 406 and to be very transparent, I even have financial worries that I settled alone with my wife and … my banker (…). Journalists, especially Spanish, tell nonsense. Everyone thinks I've made money, and some family members, in the broadest sense, would like me to help them but I do not have a penny! He added.
Incidentally, cousin Gerard assured that the right lobe of his liver was removed. " It's certain. I just had an ultrasound that confirms it. By dint of reading these stories of traffic, of shenanigans, I wondered if they had not opened me for nothing … I was well taken part of my liver. "