How A Man Went To Court To Get His Kidney Back From His Estranged Wife

One of the most generous gifts a person can give is the gift of life through organ donation. Many organ donations are from deceased donors (via Donate Life America). For instance, transplants of essential organs like the heart or lungs must come from dying or brain dead individuals.

But for other organs, a living donation can be arranged. Kidney donation is a prime example of donation that can be made while both parties are living. In living kidney donation, a healthy donor with two working kidneys gives one to someone with no functioning kidneys (via Mayo Clinic). People can survive with just one kidney, though they are at greater risk of injury and illness throughout their lives, and must follow certain restrictions, like not playing full-contact sports, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Still, though donating a kidney might seem like an undeniably selfless and praiseworthy act, not all donors are too pleased with the situation after they give away their organs. In fact, it's surprisingly common for people who give organs to their partners to come to have doubts about the situation later, especially when their partner cheats on them or the relationship otherwise dissolves. This is just what occurred in the case of Dr. Richard Batista, as the BBC reported in 2009.

He gave her a kidney after 10 years of marriage

Dr. Richard Batista was a surgeon at Nassau University Medical Center in New York, according to NBC Los Angeles. He and his wife, Dawnell, got married in 1990 and grew their family before her health deteriorated (via The Seattle Times). In 2001, to help save his wife's life, Dr. Batista decided to give one of his kidneys to her (via the BBC). When she recovered from the surgery, it seemed like an unbridled success story.

But then, in 2005, Dawnell filed for divorce. Dr. Batista argues that this followed at least two years of infidelity by Dawnell (via NBC Los Angeles), although for her part, Dawnell said Dr. Batista was actually the unfaithful partner in their marriage — and, moreover, that he had committed domestic abuse against her (via NBC New York). Their divorce proceedings quickly became ugly and drawn out, and Dr. Batista decided that he didn't just want to split the value of their house and bank accounts: he wanted to recoup his investment in Dawnell's life (via the BBC). So he asked that she either give him his kidney back or pay him $1.5 million for the value of the organ.

Judges rejected Dr. Batista's claim

Despite efforts by his lawyer, Dr. Batista's claim was soundly rejected by a court which ruled that he could not demand payment for his kidney (via NBC New York). This was expected by many medical ethicists, who pointed out in advance of the trial that it is illegal to buy or sell organs, and thus nonsensical to split the value of an organ in a divorce, according to The Seattle Times.

Though the outcome might have seemed inevitable to outsiders, Dr. Batista is hardly the first person to want to get his kidney back after a bad breakup, or to go to efforts to recover it. In 2014, a British woman named Samantha Lamb asked her soon-to-be-ex husband give her back her kidney (via She had donated the organ in 2009 when his health was critical, but claimed later that he had begun cheating on her not long after the surgery.

More recently, a woman named Colleen Le (above) shared online about how she gave a kidney to her boyfriend, according to Buzzfeed. He went on to cheat on her and break up with her. Le never attempted to regain ownership of the kidney through legal means, but commenters on her TikTok video clearly thought she should: "Take the kidney back," one commenter wrote (via The Independent).