The family of a soldier who was declared brain dead at a Clarksville hospital says a doctor approached them about donating the soldier's kidney to one of the doctor's own friends.
The doctor set up a meeting outside of the hospital between the soldier's family and a woman in need of the kidney.
The family said they thought the woman was on the national transplant waiting list, but they were surprised to learn she was not on the list and was simply a friend of the doctor.
The hospital is reviewing the doctor's actions following questions raised by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
William Gosz was devastated when doctors told him his 31-year-old son, Jason, was brain dead.
"That's something I will never forget," Gosz said.
Jason was a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan who suffered PTSD when he returned home.
Doctors said he overdosed.
"He was brain dead," Gosz said. "So they had to keep him on a ventilator to keep the organs good because he was a Tennessee organ donor."
Gosz said that's when the Intensive Care Unit doctor at Gateway Medical Center told the family he found a match for Jason's kidney and he wanted to set up a meeting.
"He said we'd like to meet at Starbucks on Madison Avenue in Clarksville. And I'm sitting there, 'You'd like to meet at Starbucks?' That's the first thing that made me feel kind of weird," Gosz said.
Gosz and his two daughters met Dr. Jatin Kadakia at the Starbucks.
"He had two people with him -- a man and a woman, and she needed the kidney," Gosz remembered.
Jason Gosz's sisters, Amanda Halstead and Ashley Wetherill, also attended.
"We assumed that she was next on the list, the recipient list, that they just wanted to pay their condolences and meet with us," Amanda Halstead said.
But the family was shocked when they asked about the list.
"Where are you on the list?" William Gosz remembered asking. "She said, 'Well, I'm not on it, I'm trying to get on it.'"
A new person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 10 minutes, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.
There are more 122,000 people waiting for an organ. Some wait years for their turn.
By law, however, an organ donor can bypass the list and donate a kidney directly to a family member or someone else.
"After we thought about it, it just seemed like he was trying to get around the system," Halstead said.
"He wanted to get his friend a kidney," Gosz said.
Making things even more uncomfortable they claim the woman's husband offered to pay for Jason's funeral.
"Dr. Kadakia said they would help with funeral expenses," Gosz said. "Dr. Kadakia would help any way that he could."
The doctor works out of an office in Clarksville.
Dr. Kadakia would not talk to us on camera but told us he made a request of the family on behalf of someone who needed a kidney.
He thought it was the "humane thing to do."
Boston University bioethics professor George Annas said doctors with inside information should not help circumvent the transplant waiting list.
"That's inappropriate, and the doctor should know that's inappropriate," Professor Annas said.
"The only way to be fair is to give it to first come first serve line. People who are waiting should have advantage over people who haven't been waiting and who happen to know a doctor who knows a patient."
Dr. Kadakia admitted the meeting with the family "could be a gray area."
Gateway Medical Center sent a statement, saying that "at no time should any member of the medical staff or employee of Gateway Medical Center engage in these conversations."
Gateway is reviewing what happened.
"This is not right," William Gosz said.
"I don't think that just because you're a doctor that entitles your friends to first dibs on an organ," Halstead said.
Jason Gosz's organs eventually improved the lives of four people.
His kidney did not go to the woman they met with because further tests revealed it was not a match.
Here is the entire statement from Gateway Medical Center:
"Gateway Medical Center is dedicated to upholding strict ethical standards and has specific policies in place in regards to organ donation. The decision whether or not to donate a loved one’s organs is personal. We respect the rights, values and beliefs of the families of potential donors, and support their right to make this decision without outside influence.
"Our hospital follows all state and federal laws related to organ donation. Our policy outlines that discussing potential donation and obtaining authorization only happens between the patient’s family and Tennessee Donor Services. At no time should any member of the medical staff or employee of Gateway Medical Center engage in these conversations. We are not aware of any violation that resulted in patient families’ wishes not being honored.
"Out of obligation to protect their privacy, we cannot comment on any specific patient. However, we respect and support the privacy of each family to independently decide whether to donate organs of a loved one. In light of your inquiry, we plan to revisit this matter and take action as appropriate."