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The Continuing Crisis



Community Property: As part of a highly contentious New York divorce, surgeon Richard Batista, who in good times had donated a kidney to his wife, demanded in January that she either give it back or compensate him with $1.5 million in consideration of the rarity of his kidney match.

Also in January, Thomas Rowley, 28, went on trial in Victorville, Calif., for his allegedly more direct approach two years ago after he and his girlfriend split. According to prosecutors, Rowley said that since he had paid for her breast implants, he felt entitled to recover them, allegedly by carving them out of her body (and consequently was charged with attempted murder).

Intimate Health Care: A sex-education advocacy organization in Sweden complained in November about the government's program that, finally after years of resistance, provides prosthetic penises to newly transgendered males. The policy was nonetheless termed unfair because the devices are cosmetic only and do not "work." (Regulations prohibit taxpayer money for "sexual aids.")

In October, five employees of the health-care provider New Zealand Care resigned when the company ordered them to provide (as routine service to developmentally disabled patients who request it) assistance in masturbating.

Episcopal priest Gregory Malia, 43, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., buys top-dollar champagne at New York City nightclubs, even leaving five-figure tips and treating his favorite waitresses to shopping sprees, according to a December New York Daily News report. Said Malia (who is a hemophiliac and owns a pharmacy devoted to blood-disorder medicine), "I work hard. I make good money. How I spend it, that is my business." Waitresses interviewed by the Daily News said "Father Greg" is a sweetheart, never doing anything inappropriate, but exceedingly generous, whether alone or with business clients. Said one waitress, "A bad night for him is (a tip of) $5,000."

Forbes magazine reported in December that state authorities were investigating Beverly Hills, Calif., plastic surgeon Alan Bittner over his claim that he had created diesel fuel for his and his girlfriend's SUVs out of liposuctioned fat from his patients. California law is said to prohibit using medical waste for such a purpose, but Bittner's claims came to light in patients' lawsuits over liposuction treatments, quoting Bittner as bragging about the biodiesel. Bittner wrote on one Web page (no longer online), "The vast majority of my patients request that I use their fat for fuel, and I have more fat than I can use."

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