2005 Transcript

SAIO Director Nail Al-Jubeir interviewed on ‘MSNBC Live and Direct’ over California transplant controversy
Director of Information at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC Nail Al-Jubeir was interviewed on MSNBC’s ‘Live and Direct’ by Rita Cosby tonight concerning a brewing controversy in California over a liver transplant operation for a Saudi citizen.

COSBY:  And in a ‘Live and Direct’ interview, now Nail Al-Jubeir of the Saudi Embassy.  He’s here to respond to these claims.  Now, what do you make of these claims, essentially saying that the Saudi government jumped ahead of all these Americans, paid more money, and therefore got a liver transplant for one of its citizens? 

NAIL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI EMBASSY SPOKESMAN:  Absolutely rubbish.  One thing.  We have patients that come here for transplants that stay on the list.  We’ve had people who have died waiting on the list.  And they come here, and they have a waiting list, they go back home.  We paid a fee.  We did not pay, as have been claimed as you just said, the hospitals so they move them up. 

We don’t know where the list is.  We don’t know where they’re on the list where the patients are on the list.  We pay the bill within the range of what is expected.  Is it higher than insurance companies pay?  Probably, because insurance companies do negotiate with hospitals.  We as a government don’t.  That’s why some insurance companies or some hospitals don’t accept certain insurance, because of the negotiations that goes on between the insurance companies and the patients.  But as far as paying somebody to skip above the line is completely totally ridiculous. 

COSBY:  That’s an interesting point you made about the money.  In fact, let me show you how much money the Los Angeles Times is saying that the Royal Embassy, your Embassy, paid $339,000 for the transplant and hospital care plus undisclosed fees to the doctors.  As you point out—now it’s interesting you point out for the reason, 35, you know, maybe 25 percent to 35 percent higher.  Do you feel if that’s the case that you got ripped off? 

AL-JUBEIR:  Well, you see, the cost that was paid went to the hospital.  And the liver transplants in this country range between $250,000 to $400,000.  And there are other expenses.  We paid for one patient up to $2 million because he got a transplant and it failed and there were medical expenses involved.  We pay what it takes for our patients.  But we will not pay to get anyone moved on the list that is not supposed to be. 

COSBY:  So, why do you think that did that to the Saudis?  Why do you think they did now?  Because, you know, even in the hospitals—they put folks on suspension.
AL-JUBEIR:  I really don’t know what happened.  We were surprised when we saw the wire story a couple of days ago.  We looked into it to try to identify who the people are.  We’re looking into it to see whether this is possible, because we had people who were on the list who‘ve died before waiting. 

So, having someone jump on the list is simply unfair.  I have (INAUDIBLE) who was on a kidney transplant waiting list.  And if she has had to wait, because somebody jumped ahead of it is unconscionable.

There are people whose lives depend on it.  And having somebody who just comes in with money and buys is simply unconscionable.  Luckily, her kidney transplant was sent in from Saudi Arabia where she was on the list and was then done here in the United States.

But  to bring somebody to pay him is simply unacceptable.  And we’ve never participated in it.  And when we find out about it we’ll definitely not deal with the hospital ever again.

COSBY:  Nail, thank you very much.  I appreciate your coming on. 

AL-JUBEIR:  Thank you very much.