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The Israel Transplantation Society expressed its regrets on Wednesday over the arrest in Istanbul of Prof. Zaki Shapira, for years one of Israel's leading transplant surgeons at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, on suspicion of organ sales.
Shapira, who retired from the hospital five years ago, was arrested still wearing his green surgical clothing a week ago, along with two Israeli Arabs suspected of selling organs and one who bought a kidney from them and underwent transplant surgery.
Shapira, who reportedly did not participate in the surgery, was arrested at the end of a shootout by local police with a gang of four thieves who broke into the hospital during the surgery, seeking the cash that was to be turned over for the procedure.
Shapira reportedly accompanied the patient to Turkey and supervised the treatment he received.
The Turkish authorities said they suspected Shapira of involvement in organ sales and that he had made several visits to that country during the past few months.
Although the sale of transplant organs inside Israel is illegal, it is not yet illegal according to Israeli law when carried out abroad, though it does violate international law.
The Transplantation Society said is working to prevent organ sales through a bill that has been tabled in the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee.
The society called on the Health Ministry to find solutions to the severe shortage of transplant organs in Israel and called on citizens to sign donor cards.