A Nigerian doctor has confessed in court that he lied about a potential kidney donor as he was “desperate” for his own operation to go ahead.
Dr Obinna Obeta, 51, is accused of being part of an international criminal conspiracy in a organ transplant trafficking plot.
The Old Bailey heard how Dr Obeta had travelled with a donor from Nigeria in 2021 who he incorrectly said was his cousin.
He pleaded not guilty to breaking modern slavery laws.
Ex-Nigerian politician Ike Ekweremadu, 60, is accused of bringing a man to the UK to provide a kidney for his daughter Sonia.
Mr Ekweremadu, his wife Beatrice, 56, and daughter Sonia, 25, denied conspiring to arrange or facilitate the travel of the young man to Britain with a view to his exploitation in May 2022.
Dr Obeta is accused of being an associate in the plot.
On Monday, the court heard how Dr Obeta had successfully undergone a kidney transplant in the UK in 2021, with a donor travelling from Nigeria who was said to be his cousin.
But asked by his defence barrister, Sally Howes KC, if the man was in fact his cousin, Dr Obeta admitted that he was not.
“No, he’s not a blood relative. I wish to apologise for that,” Dr Obeta said.
“At that point I was really desperate to survive,” he added.
Asked if he accepted that by identifying him as a cousin that was a lie, Dr Obeta said: “I’m not proud of that.”
Thought of Others
Dr Obeta denied that he had offered any money for the donor’s kidney, or any kind of reward and told the court that he had kept in touch with the man after the operation.
“He was more like my son at this point,” Dr Obeta said.
The court heard that after his operation, Dr Obeta had contacted his donor to ask if he was able to find any further potential donors.
“There were others I had in mind. It’s not an easy task,” said Dr Obeta.
He told the court that he needed to know the motives of potential donors, while others were not going to have kidneys that matched.
The prosecution has alleged that Dr Obeta was looking to repeat the process he had successfully followed himself with the Ekweremadu family, who needed a kidney for their daughter Sonia.
The Old Bailey previously heard that the proposed donor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, ran away after doctors at the Royal Free Hospital decided he was not a suitable candidate.
It is alleged another street trader was then recruited by Dr Obeta as a potential donor for Sonia Ekweremadu.
All three defendants deny a charge under the Modern Slavery Act.
The trial is ongoing.