New York hospitals are routinely "harvesting" body parts from patients before they're even dead, a lawsuit is claiming.
The suit accuses the transplant non-profit, The New York Organ Donor Network, of bullying hospital staffers to declare patients brain dead when they are still alive in order to take their organs.
Plaintiff Patrick McMahon, 50, an Air Force combat veteran, is a former transplant coordinator who claims he was fired just four months into the job for protesting about the practice and estimates that one in five patients is still showing signs of brain activity when surgeons declare them dead and start ripping out their body parts.
"They're playing God," McMahon told New York Post. The lawsuits, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court Tuesday, cited four examples of improper organ harvesting.
One of the examples cited details of a 19-year-old man injured in a car crash who was still struggling to breath and showed signs of brain activity when doctors at Nassau University Medical Center declared him brain dead under pressure from the donor-network officials, including Director Michael Goldstein, who allegedly said during a conference call: "This kid is dead, you got that?" the suit claims.
McMahon said that the teenager could have easily recovered.
"I have been in Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan in combat," he told New York Post. "I worked on massive brain injuries, trauma, gunshot wounds, IEDs. I have seen worse cases than this and the victims recover."
The three other examples of patients who were still clinging to life when doctors declared them brain dead included a female patient admitted to St. Barnabas Hospital, a man admitted to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn and a woman admitted to Staten Island University Hospital after a drug overdose who was given "a paralyzing anesthetic" because her body was still jerking, according to the Post.
McMahon said when he flagged up the injection, another network employee told hospital personnel McMahon was "an untrained troublemaker with a history of raising frivolous issues and questions," the suit charged. "I had a reputation for raising a red flag," he said.
McMahon accuses the federally-funded network of having a "quota" system and hiring "coaches" to teach staff how to be more persuasive in getting family members to give consent to organ donation. McMahon claims that on November 4, he told the network's CEO and president, Helen Irving, that "one in five patients declared brain dead show signs of brain activity at the time the Note is issued."
However, according to the suit, Irving replied: "This is how things are done."