Shocking Headlines: Kidney Story

Contested Kidney

An unusual divorce case has sparked debates across the country: Dr. Richard Batista accuses his estranged wife of infidelity, and he demands she return the kidney he donated to her, or pay him $1.5 million.


In an interview with local news, Richard says, "I felt humiliated, betrayed, disrespected, and disregarded for me as a person, as a man, as a husband, as a father." He claims his wife started having an affair two years after the transplant, but she denies the accusations. "There's no deeper pain that you can ever express [than] betrayal from somebody whom you loved and devoted your whole life to."


Dr. Phil is joined by Lisa Bloom, trial attorney and anchor of In Session's Open Court, and defense attorney Bradford Cohen, who have differing opinions about the case. He asks Lisa, "What's the deal? Do you get a kidney back?"

"She may have ripped out his heart. He doesn't get to rip out her kidney," she says. "This is preposterous. This is the proverbial pound of flesh coming true in a court of law. He does not get the kidney back. That is absurd."


[AD]Brad interjects, "I don't think that he's going to get the actual kidney back, but the value for the kidney is an interesting argument. What you have in the state of New York, an inter-spousal gift is treated as a marital asset. Even if it is a gift, he's entitled to half the value of an asset that is given during the marriage."

"If the money for that [gift] comes from marital funds," Lisa chimes in. "That's not the same thing as a kidney coming out of your body."

Dr. Phil asks Brad, "If it shortens his life because he's got one kidney, doesn't that reduce his earning capacity, and if it lengthens her life, doesn't it increase her potential earning capacity?"

"I think it does," he replies. 

Nancy Grace, former prosecutor and host, HLN, joins the show via satellite from New York and weighs in. "He's not going to get his kidney back, he's probably not going to get any money back, and I think it's over-valued at $1.5 million. And also, he is spurned. He is angry because he thinks his wife cheated," she says. "He needs to suck it up, to man up, to get the divorce and get it over with." She adds that the man's wife gave birth to his three kids who are now being subjected to this battle. "It's not all about him. There are three children involved, and he needs to stop now and settle the divorce."

Bradford responds, "This guy is being treated as the villain, and essentially, he gave his wife a kidney. He gave her the gift of life. He then took care of her during the transplant, and allegedly she cheats on him. Then she serves him with the divorce papers while he's walking in to [perform] a surgery. Then she says he can't see his kids. This guy is getting pushed, and pushed and pushed."

"Is this a publicity stunt?" Dr. Phil asks Nancy. "Is this guy just trying to get attention?"

"I think he is, and I think he's licking his wounds," she says. "They got married back in 1990, and he says that in just two years, their marriage was on a ‘downward spiral,' so he's waited all this time. The transplant was in 2001."

"When you give a gift, you give it with no strings. You give a gift with no expectations," Dr. Phil says.

"I think you're right to the extent where it's not involving a divorce," Bradford says. "But involving a divorce, things get ugly."