Director of the Information Office of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington Nail Al-Jubeir appeared on MSNBC’s Live and Direct Wednesday evening to discuss the controversy surrounding allegations that a Saudi national received preferential treatment for an organ transplant at St. Vincent Medical Center in California. Al-Jubeir told program host Rita Cosby that allegations that the Saudi government would be involved in any scheme to put the interest of its citizens unfairly ahead of the treatment of others waiting for organ donations is totally unfounded. Lives are at stake, he stressed, and the Kingdom adheres to strict compliance with the existing codes of medical conduct.
“We have patients that come here for transplant that stay on the list,” he said. “We’ve had people who have died waiting on the list, and when they come here and they have a waiting list they go back home. We pay the fee. We did not pay, as has been claimed ... the hospital so they move them up.”
Saudi Arabia does not have the list and does not know the order of patients on the list. Saudi Arabia, he continued, sometimes will pay rates higher than paid by insurance companies because unlike insurance companies Saudi Arabia does not negotiate fees with hospitals. As long as the fees are within the reasonable estimates for the type of procedure required Saudi Arabia will pay the amount billed for medical expenses, and sometimes if the patient suffers complications may pay more.
He explained that the details of the particular case in California are still under investigation and not all the facts are known. But Al-Jubeir stressed under no circumstances would Saudi Arabia pay for allowing Saudi patients to unfairly move up the list for transplants, and if such misconduct should be found on the part of any hospital, Saudi Arabia would not deal with that hospital again.
Full transcript of interview