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Renowned orthopedics surgeon Gheorghe Burnei detained for corruption. What have prosecutors found out in his office?
File photo. Agerpres

New searches, more accusing testimonies in doctor Burnei’s case

The officers of the General Anti-corruption Directorate (DGA) and policemen from the Crime Department are conducting new searches at the Marie Curie Hospital in doctor Burnei’s case on Wednesday, with the orthopedist surgeon for children being taken from his place, where he is taken down under house arrest, to attend the searches.

Judicial sources told Agerpres that searches are being conducted in the doctor’s office and in other locations in the hospital.

Bucharest Tribunal ruled on Sunday that doctor Gheorghe Burnei should be placed under house arrest for 30 days in a file where he is suspected of bribe taking and unauthorized experiments on children.

Meanwhile, after the media exposed the case, more and more parents whose children had been operated by Burnei, revealed their experiences. In some case, their children died following the surgery performed by Burnei, or remained crippled.

A woman from Brasov accuses the doctor of malpraxis after her daughter died in the operating room three years ago. Ana Maria Gaman recounted that her daughter Andreea was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was 8. They went to doctor Burnei, who told them he would perform a premiere surgery for Romania, namely he would mount a prosthesis for the girl’s spine.

Andree died in the operating room. Her mother filed for a complaint, with the forensic report stating that “other deficiencies have been recorded in the medical services provided, a deficit of surgery technique.”

The doctor only told me that the girl was upstanding and that she is now with God, upstanding,” the mother says.

The parents of an 11-year-old boy say that their child was on the verge of losing his leg after doctor Burnei mounted an improvised device of wire and cement. Three years ago, Alexandru was diagnosed with bone cancer and ended up in doctor Burnei’s care at Marie Curie, who placed an improvised device in the boy’s femur. After one year, the device broke, risking to cut the boy’s leg. His parents took him in Italy where doctors put him a new prosthesis that saved his life. The boy is now attending school but is going on crutches.

The foundation that helped Alexandru to go in Italy has sent over 50 children abroad in the past 5 years. All these children had been first patients of doctor Burnei, says the foundation’s president for Digi24.

Stancu family from Ploiesti also reached Burnei to operate their daughter who was suffering from juvenile scoliosis. The mother, Gabriela Stancu says the doctor has asked them RON 30,000 to operate the daughter. “We hardly got to the doctor Burnei. We needed recommendations for the doctor had a precise list with who you are, who is recommending you….He didn’t even look at the child. He only studied the radiography, not even a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and decided the operation. That’s it. After three days, the hospital’s therapist came to us and asked: have you got RON 30,000 for the surgery? We said: what?”, the mother recounted.

They did not have the money so they decided to leave from Marie Curie Hospital. “We made inquiries, looking for some other companies that performed this kind of implant. There were the same people. There was no competition,” she says. Eventually, they managed to go to Germany for the surgery.

How much did doctor Burnei earn?

Prosecutors say that Gheorghe Burnei used to make the parents whose children those surgeries pay extra money, meaning bribe, considering that officially he used to cash in around EUR 7,000 per month.

According to his wealth statement filed in 2015, Gheorghe Burnei has a house, two apartments and a car. He says he has inherited the house in 2012, owns 50% of an apartment bought in 1990 and has another apartment bought in 1993. In 2015, he declared he had a bank account of EUR 35,000.

As for the incomes last year, the doctor earned RON 126,000 as doctor at Marie Curie state hospital, another RON 60,000 as professor at the Carol Davila Medicine Faculty and another ORN 197,000 as doctor at the private hospital “Regina Maria”. On average there were about EUR 7,000 per month.

Spokesperson of the “Carol Davila” Medicine Faculty in Bucharest, Valentin Mateescu told News.ro that Gheorghe Burnei had been suspended from the positions of vice-dean and university professor of the faculty as of December 12. The decision will be in force until prosecutors conclude the criminal investigation and the court will rule a final sentence in his case.

About Alina Grigoras Butu