New York hospital wins diseased kidney transplant case

A jury has found prominent organ-transplant hospital NYU Langone Medical Center not to blame in the September 2002 death of Vincent Liew, who developed cancer after receiving a kidney from a donor who unknowingly had uterine cancer.

The $3 million suit by Liew's widow stated that the hospital should have urged her husband to have the organ removed immediately after the cancer was discovered six weeks after the transplant, but that the surgeon, Dr. Thomas Diflo, advised his patient that there was only a slim chance he'd be sickened by the feminine cancer. Diflo, who ultimately removed the kidney in August 2002, testified that he explained the risks and the patient insisted on keeping the kidney.

Despite the verdict, Liew's widow, Kimberly, told the New York Daily News that the case she brought with lawyer Daniel Buttafuoco still represents a victory in carrying out her husband's dying wish to raise awareness of risks associated with donor organs. "There's nobody to be blamed for this," she told the newspaper. "It was hard for [surgeon Thomas Diflo] and hard for me. I sent him a card, saying I forgive him....I forgave him eight years ago. Letting go is all I can do now."

In an effort to learn the status of patients who may have received the same donor's heart and other organs, the local organization that arranged Liew's transplant has referred calls to a national group, the United Network for Organ Sharing, reports the Associated Press.

To learn more:
- read this article from the Associated Press
- learn more about the family's reaction in the New York Daily News