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Diseased Kidney Transplant Not Negligence, Jury Finds

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on February 22, 2016 11:58 AM

You need an organ. Doctors warn that it will take a while unless you are willing to risk taking an organ from a less than ideal donor. What do you do? And if something goes wrong, who will you successfully sue?

A Massachusetts case decided last week provides a scary but interesting perspective. Doctors and an organ bank that transferred a diseased kidney from an alcoholic homeless man to a patient in need of a transplant, giving him a rare rodent virus, were found not guilty of negligence in a medical context by a jury last week. The transplant patient died. Let's look at the details, according to ABC News, and why no negligence was found here.

You Were Warned

In 2008, Pierre Dimanche, a patient awaiting a kidney transplant, was told about a possible donor. The donor was homeless and an alcoholic, so not necessarily a great candidate for passing on body parts. But the patient was desperate and, although warned, decided to risk the kidney transfer.

Unfortunately, the donor turned out to be more problematic than imagined. He had a rare rodent disease that infected the transplant patient, who did not survive.

The patient's daughter sued the doctors and organ donor agency for negligence, arguing that they breached their duty of care to her father and caused his death. But the jury -- after 7 hours of deliberations, which is an indication that this was not an easy decision -- found the defendants not guilty of negligence.

The decision was based on the fact that the transplant patient was warned of the risks of accepting an organ from a questionable donor. Attorneys for the doctors and organ bank say the man was classified as a high-risk donor and Dimanche was told this. As such, he assumed the risks, including contracting a disease that doesn't normally afflict humans.

Consult With Counsel

As this case shows, negligence cases can be difficult to prove. Sometimes even shocking situations prove not to be negligence. However, if you or someone you know has been injured, do speak to a lawyer. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case.

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