Organ Donors: Saving Lives?
People decide to be organ donors with the intention of saving another person’s life once their time on this earth is over. Nobody thinks about the possibility that their tissue might not be properly disinfected and actually lead to the death of the person in need.
But sadly, this situation is a reality.
About 1 million people undergo operations every year that use tissues from donated dead bodies. Most of the time, these parts are sufficiently treated to kill bacteria and are kept at the cold temperature necessary to ensure their safe preservation.
While most tissue transplants go flawlessly, there are times when things go wrong—and the results are tragic.
These types of tissue transplants have made recent headlines after several healthy men died following a routine knee surgery. It was discovered that the tissue contained a bacteria that caused severe abdominal pain, a sharp drop in blood pressure and septic shock.
The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for tissue safety and is aware of these sorts of problems.
At every step in the process, from funeral homes to hospitals and doctors’ offices, where patients receiving various organs and tissue—poor monitoring creates a dangerous situation for the hopeful recipient.
But every year, health officials seem to find a new germ that spreads through tissue. And each year, the FDA inspects a smaller and smaller portion of tissue distribution companies. Other times, the administration will inspect but fail to adequately follow up.
For example, in 2003 the FDA found that the New Jersey company Biomedical Tissue Services, was not documenting what it did with the tissue not suited for transplant. Once Biomedical Tissue Services sent a letter stating they had resolved the problem, the FDA laid the matter to rest. But for two more years, thousands of people were sent unsuitable tissue that was later used in transplant surgery.
On the Other End
On the receiving end, doctors tend to know little about the history of the tissue they use. Some hospitals purchase it as they do other supplies-assessing price and availability. Not all patients are told that the tissue they are receiving is from a cadaver, nor are they given the option of alternative treatments.
To learn more about how medical mistakes can affect your health and well being, or if you think you have a medical malpractice case in the Salt Lake City area, please contact G. Eric Nielson & Associates today to schedule your free consultation.
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