As a patient receiving a donor organ, you expect your transplant surgeon to fully examine and consider the donated organ for existing diseases that may introduce new and potentially fatal health issues – and make the right life-saving decision to accept an organ as fully viable for transplant or not.
In a key, first-of-its-kind medical malpractice jury verdict of $1.2 million Dankner, Milstein‘s top New York organ transplant negligence lawyer, Edward Milstein, has proven that this is not always the case – sending a warning to patients to be sure their surgeons know what the donor died from.
Milstein recently won the groundbreaking verdict on behalf of a Minnesota woman who received a pancreas potentially containing a fatal strain of viral meningitis – and possibly riddled with cancer – that her surgeon deemed viable for transplant. Transplant recipient Jodie Shierts died three months later from cancer.
“This is a precedent-setting case because while it is probably not the first case of a donor receiving a diseased organ, it is the first case that we know of where the transplanting surgeon was actually sued and the case won at trial,” Milstein explained.
He says this win underscores a warning to organ transplant recipients to make sure that the transplant surgeon knows for certain the cause of death of the donor.
Many transplant institutions had turned down the pancreas due to its questionable health before Dr. Ty Dunn, at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, accepted the pancreas based on what Milstein calls “questionable” evidence as to whether or not it was a suitable organ for transplantation.
“In fact, the doctor testified at trial that she ordinarily would not have accepted this organ because of the uncertainty as to whether the donor had died from viral meningitis or not” Milstein said. “But she accepted the pancreas she claimed because the recipient, Jodie Shierts, was so sick from diabetes that Dunn was afraid Shierts would not survive until another pancreas became available.”
While Dunn testified that she explained all of the risks to Shierts, Milstein was, however, able to prove that was untrue, that the conversation never transpired, and that indeed she never revealed to her patient that the pancreas was of questionable health.
Milstein’s win came after the jury debated 12 hours before awarding $1.2 million to Shierts’ heirs. Shierts was a single mother of a 3-year-old autistic child at the time of her death.
Four organs from the same donor were accepted for transplant – the pancreas, the liver and both kidneys – resulting in four separate malpractice cases filed in 2007 and 2008 when the transplants took place: the Minnesota case (pancreas), two against New York University Medical Center (liver and one kidney, in which the liver transplant patient died), and Stony Brook Hospital (the second kidney).
In addition to winning this month’s pancreas transplant malpractice case, Milstein settled the two cases with NYU in June of this year (2015). The case against Stony Brook Hospital is expected to go to trial next year.
If you think you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you should contact one of our New York organ transplant lawyers Dankner Milstein for a free consultation at 212-751-8000 or visit email@example.com.
Our firm has recovered more than $500 million for clients we’ve represented and has obtained more than two hundred (200) verdicts and settlements of one million dollars or higher.
We are rated nationally in the top tier in medical malpractice and products liability litigation by Best Lawyers in America and all name partners have been consistently elected by their peers as New York “Super Lawyers” as well as members of “The National Top 100 Trial Lawyers.”