Lawsuit: Man Gets Cancerous Lungs, Dies

A transplant patient died six months after apparently getting a smoker's lungs.

ByABC News
April 7, 2008, 4:16 PM

Apr. 8, 2008 — -- PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A man received a smoker's cancerous lungs ina transplant at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania anddied six months later, according to a lawsuit against the hospitaland several doctors.

Tony Grier, who suffered from a rare lung disease, joined atransplant waiting list and received the donor lungs on Jan. 7,2005, the suit said. Although doctors noticed a spot on his lungs amonth later, the lawsuit alleges, they did not diagnose the canceruntil late May.

The New Jersey man remained hospitalized at Penn from then untilhis July 16 death at age 43.

The suit filed by Grier's mother alleges that Penn told Grier hewas getting the healthy lungs of an 18-year-old - a charge thatPenn denies, spokeswoman Susan Phillips said Monday.

Instead, they came from a pack-a-day smoker who died atLancaster General Hospital after a car crash, the suit said.Grier's family is seeking more than $5 million in compensatorydamages, plus additional money for pain and suffering.

The family of the donor, a 31-year-old woman, also toldLancaster General that she drank alcohol and may have used illegaldrugs, the suit said. The family was interviewed by a Lancasternurse and filled out a Gift of Life Donor Program form, it said.

The University of Pennsylvania hospital denies that it suppliedGrier with any misinformation, and also denies the other counts,which include medical malpractice, negligence, battery andemotional distress.

"It's a terrible tragedy. We are as heartbroken as the nextperson," said Phillips, the health system's senior vice presidentfor public affairs. "We had no way of knowing that we werereceiving anything other than healthy organs."

"When institutions that perform transplants get the organ, thepresumption is that the organs have been tested," she said.

Tony Grier had been diagnosed in 1986 with pulmonarysarcoidosis, which can cause lung tissue to harden.

Emma Grier, of Newark, N.J., filed the federal lawsuit on behalfof her son's estate. Her lawyer, Dawn L. Jackson, declined commentMonday, citing Penn's pending request for a gag order.