Ask Dr. Helen: Men Who Give Too Much (Including Internal Organs)

In my work as a psychologist, I have often dealt with men going through, or just out of, a divorce. Many have been so devastated when the marriage was floundering or over that they gave their wife everything that they had or left her with the house, the kids, or, in this case, a kidney:

A New York doctor is demanding that his estranged wife pay him $1.5 million to compensate him for the kidney he gave her while they were still on good terms.

Dr. Richard Batista spoke Wednesday to reporters at his lawyer's office in Garden City, Long Island.

He said he gave his kidney to Dawnell Batista in June 2001. She filed for divorce in July 2005.

Richard Batista wants his estranged wife to pay a heavy price for cheating on him and destroying their marriage, reports the Daily News.

"She slapped me with divorce papers when I was in surgery trying to save another person's life," the doctor said, according to the newspaper.

The 49-year-old Batista works for Nassau University Medical Center. The couple have three children, ages, 8, 11 and 14.

It appears, according to one news source (in video), that the Batistas' marriage was not going so well at the time Batista gave his wife a kidney. In order to save her life and the marriage, he did what he thought was the right thing. Maybe it was. But perhaps he did it for the wrong reason. Maybe he used his kidney as a tool to get his marriage back on track -- just like many men who buy their wives a fur, jewelry, or a house try and "save the marriage." Guess what? It never works.

If you look around the blogosphere or media, you will see the kidney story treated naively as an ethical question or framed as simple revenge or even a publicity stunt. For example, at, votes were taken asking, "Is it fair for the husband to demand a donated kidney from his wife?" Most people voted "No, and it's unethical, Don't toy with human life" or "No, it's vindictive. People fall out of love."