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The leader of an internet cult today said some members have lied to health authorities so that they could donate their kidneys to Australians in need of a transplant.

In Australia, kidney donations are not allowed for anyone apart from family members, friends or those with an emotional connection, to prevent organs being sold on the black market.

Jesus Christians leader Dave McKay said he was aware that some members had pretended they had a longer relationship than actually existed with organ recipients in order to receive approval for a donation.

However, he said the cult did not encourage this.

When asked what he thought of members who lied, Mr McKay said: “I feel that’s their business.”

“Wouldn’t you lie to save someone’s life”?

The Victorian Government has received reports of two cases in which kidneys were donated by group members and there are also believed to have been some incidents in New South Wales.

Mr McKay said Jesus Christians believed kidney donations were a “good thing” but denied the cult pushed members to donate their kidneys.

“Our policy is that we think they (kidney transplants) are a good thing and that there are thousands of people dying every year because they can’t get a kidney; they are on a waiting list for five to six years,” he said.

“If every one in 10,000 Australians would simply donate a kidney, at minimum risk to themself, there would be no waiting list at all.”

His comments come after Victorian Health Minister Bronwyn Pike said it would investigate reports that there had been two cases in Victoria where Jesus Christians members had feigned a long relationship with organ recipients.

A spokesman for Ms Pike said there was concern that if these people were lying about their relationship with the organ recipient, they may also be willing to lie about their health.

“It’s not a great thing to lie to a doctor, but if they are lying about that, you wonder what else they are lying about,” he said.

“There was a case in the last few weeks where a few people died in the US because they got organs from someone who had rabies.”

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks also expressed concern about the reports.

“We would hate to think that people felt obliged to do it because of their commitment to a particular cult,” Mr Bracks said on Melbourne radio station 3AW today.

“That would be the wrong motivation. It should be about what is best for the individual, what’s best for their health and what’s best for people who are receiving it as well.

“Yes we are concerned about it and the (health) minister will be taking action on this matter.”

The Jesus Christians cult was founded in Melbourne in 1982 and uses the Internet to preach its teachings.

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