View Full Version : Hospital wins suit after man got uterine cancer.

29-05-10, 00:05
NEW YORK - 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 dialysis for four years, got a kidney transplant 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 autopsy 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.


You know this really begs one to wonder what is it about a hospital's agenda to help patients when they knowingly take risks with the lives of people who depend on them.

29-05-10, 00:17
A jury found the hospital was not at fault.
There is obviously more to the story than what was reported.

29-05-10, 00:33
what is it about a hospital's agenda to help patients when they knowingly take risks with the lives of people who depend on them.

I always had the understanding that when a hospital had an opportunity to potentially better a person's standard of living then it was to be present to said patient along with the risks involved. It keeps them informed and offers hope.

From the sounds of things, the patient was informed when something cropped up and did agree to take the risk. Sounds like a tragic and rather unlucky case of being one of the 'slim' cases. So, I can see how a hospital won that legal matter.

29-05-10, 00:38
But the real problem was more on a moral one. He chose to keep the organ, but they didn't do everything they could to talk him out of it knowing it could have a chance of killing him (which it did). This is often why I'm concerned with my own health when it comes to legal practices and such because it used to be more or less about your doctor looking out for your best interests, now these days it's working hand-in-hand with what the insurance companies value you for and if they care enough to keep supporting you.

29-05-10, 00:45
Having never really been in a situation with anything remotely like that, is it actually their job to talk you out of something if you choose it while in a state of a clear mind? I've always just assumed that it was only down to them to explain the problems which could potentially arise and then let the patient decide for themselves. I would say that since it was deemed only a 'slim' chance that they probably weren't as detailed as a 'higher' risk explanation might have been though.

I would like to believe that most healthcare instances are truly concerned about health. Excluding ones which perhaps portray a governmentally unsuitable statistic.

29-05-10, 00:57
Maybe it was a case of perhaps contracting cancer versus the chance of getting another matching kidney and undergoing life-threatening surgery again.

29-05-10, 01:19
Wow.. that seems like some sort of a mix up, but I think she expected way too much.. I mean $3 million? :eek:

Another side note, that would be very scary, recieving a donated organ which could have cancer? WOAH! Very scary thought.

Ward Dragon
29-05-10, 07:42
Maybe it was a case of perhaps contracting cancer versus the chance of getting another matching kidney and undergoing life-threatening surgery again.

Exactly. It's very risky to undergo surgery like that and who knows how long it would have been before they found another matching kidney. There were risks involved no matter what the hospital did. In their experience they thought that it was a bigger risk to go through the surgery again as opposed to keeping the organ, so they respected the patient's choice to keep the organ until there were signs something was wrong, at which point they removed the organ. It sounds like they did everything right but the patient was unfortunate. It's sad, but it happens. Suing the hospital for millions of dollars will only hurt the other patients since the hospital might have to raise rates or lay off staff in order to pay the settlement. It's good that the jury found in favor of the hospital.

Dennis's Mom
29-05-10, 12:33
Why do people insist on thinking very small risk means no risk? Many of us leave the house everyday with no umbrella when there's a 30% chance of rain, because that means there's a 70% chance of no rain, and that sounds like a perfectly acceptable risk. Granted, rain isn't deadly, but it how we view odds.

Here's it says there's a 1% chance of of your organ making you sick. That's a 99% chance it won't make you sick. Who wouldn't take those odds, particularly faced with more dialysis and a wait for another kidney?

It's very sad this guy's bucked the odds, but I can't fault the hospital for not advising a knee jerk reaction of more risky surgery and and even riskier wait while on dialysis. Dialysis doesn't work forever.

Capt. Murphy
29-05-10, 12:41
I guess, no matter what... It was just his time. Transplant or not. :(