NYC hospital wins kidney transplant-cancer lawsuit

May 28, 2010 By JENNIFER PELTZ , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- A prominent organ-transplant hospital wasn't to blame for the death of a man who became riddled with cancer after getting a kidney from a donor who unknowingly had uterine cancer, jurors found Friday.

The Queens jury found for NYU Langone Medical Center on Friday in the medical malpractice case surrounding Vincent Liew's 2002 death, said the hospital's lawyer, Robert Elliott. Experts have said it may be the only case of uterine cancer being transmitted by transplant, though the hospital has suggested Liew died of another form of cancer derived from the transplant.

Attorneys for Liew's widow, Kimberly, who had sued seeking more than $3 million in damages, didn't immediately return a call.

The hospital had argued that after belatedly learning about the cancer, its doctors did their best to assess the unusual situation and give Liew good advice.

"This was a tragic result for all parties, and we want to once again extend our deepest sympathies to the Liew family," the hospital said in a statement. "Unfortunately, in this case, the outcome of the transplant could not have been predicted or even imagined by our transplant team."

Liew, a 37-year-old diabetic who had been on for four years, got a on Feb. 25, 2002. The donor had died of a stroke, and Liew's surgeon, Dr. Thomas Diflo, didn't learn about her cancer until about six weeks after the transplant.

Liew decided to keep the kidney after Diflo concluded there was only a slim chance he'd be sickened by the feminine cancer. He ultimately had the kidney removed in August 2002 but died the next month of a cancer his said came from the donor.

His widow said the hospital should have urged him to have the organ removed immediately.

One of her lawyers, Daniel Buttafuoco, told jurors Thursday that the hospital took "a huge risk with Vincent Liew's life."

The hospital said it advised Liew there was a risk, respected his choice and aggressively monitored the kidney for signs of cancer. Repeated tests found nothing, though his cancer became apparent after the organ was removed.

NYU acknowledged the malignancy derived from the transplant and caused his death, but a cancer expert who reviewed Liew's records on the hospital's behalf said he believed Liew suffered from a type of immune-system cancer that sometimes afflicts transplant patients. Another cancer specialist, who reviewed the records for Liew's widow, concluded Liew's disease was indeed uterine cancer.

Liew, originally from Singapore, worked in the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York.

NYU Langone is one of the country's busiest transplant hospitals, having performed more than 1,300 liver and kidney transplants during the last 21 years, according to its website.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 percent of U.S. organ transplants are suspected of transmitting illnesses, though data are sparse.

Explore further: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Most kidney transplant candidates will accept risk of infection

Mar 25, 2010

Most kidney transplant candidates are willing to receive a kidney from a donor at increased risk of viral infection, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology (CJASN ...

Kidney transplants less successful at night

Jul 15, 2008

Kidney transplants should be carried out during the day if possible. At least this is the conclusion suggested by a survey just published by urologists and internists at the University of Bonn (Transplantation Proceedings, vol. 4 ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.