Man Dies of Cancer Contracted From Donor Kidney

Man dies of uterine cancer after surgeons transplant a malignant kidney.

ByABC News
May 18, 2010, 1:39 PM

May 20, 2010— -- Vincent Liew's kidney transplant was going to give him a new lease on life, or so he and his wife, Kimberly, thought.

What Liew, 37, and his doctors didn't know then was that his new kidney had come with an undiagnosed cancer from its original owner, one that would cause him to die seven months later of uterine cancer.

The New York City man's autopsy revealed widespread tumors in his lungs, bladder, kidneys and prostate, all consistent with the kind of uterine cancer cells found post-mortem in the donor.

Kimberly Liew is now suing the doctors at the NYU Medical Center who performed the transplant, claiming that they didn't properly screen the organ, failed to recognize and treat Liew's cancer, and withheld information concerning the donor's cancer from the couple, according to court documents.

"They made up a lot of excuses," Liew told the New York Daily News. "They told us the kidney is not adapting to his body. They didn't tell me he had cancer."

When Liew was called in for a transplant in February of 2002, he was given a second chance at health that only a fraction of those on the list will ever get.

Although the organ had been cleared for use by the New York Organ Donor Network before the transplant, results from the donor's autopsy later revealed that she suffered from an undiagnosed uterine cancer that had spread to the right ovary and lungs, court papers say.

The discovery was made days after the transplant but, Kimberly Liew claimed, the information was not shared with her or her husband until six months later, when the donor kidney was finally removed by Liew's transplant surgeon, Dr. Thomas Diflo, court papers said.

Neither the NYU doctors nor Liew's attorney, Daniel Buttafuocco, could comment because the judge has issued a gag order on the trial, which began Tuesday in the Queens Supreme Court.