Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Judge's fury after he frees convict to have heart transplant - but doctors refuse because she won't quit smoking

This is a sad case for sure. There are more than 3,000 people waiting for a life-saving heart transplant in the U.S. and so far only 186 transplants have been done this year. Is this a case of smoking addiction being so strong that it's more powerful than the will to live? Or, is it just that the individual involved doesn't comprehend that her life is at risk? Regardless, there are many deserving potential recipients out there who would cherish the donation of a new heart and not dishonor the donor and his or her family.
A judge who freed a criminal for a life-saving transplant has reacted with fury after finding out the 48-year-old woman hasn't been allowed a new heart because she won't stop smoking.

Judge Francis Ricigliano berated Diane McCloud in the Long Island court - but gave her until June 10 to ditch the bad habit.

McCloud, from Hempstead, admitted that she is still puffing away on four cigarettes a day.

In January, McCloud's lawyer Leonard Isaacs had argued that his client was facing 'a death sentence' if she was sent to prison for stealing merchandise from a Target store.

At the original trial, McCloud was brought to court by ambulance and wheeled in on a hospital bed with an IV attached.

Mr Isaacs said a cardiologist at Nassau University Medical Centre had confirmed that McCloud would be dead within six months if she was denied the transplant.

The lawyer said: 'She knew she had a heart problem however it was just in the last week that it seemed to exacerbate.'

He asked if McCloud could be released for a transplant screening to which the judge agreed, calling it a case of 'compassion'.

Judge Ricigliano cut short McCloud's 15-month sentence at the Nassau County Correctional Centre.

At the time of her release, McCloud's sister said: 'She got a loving family. She got the support that she need.'

The 48-year-old had been entering the seventh month of a 15-month sentence for stealing $2,347 of goods from the Westbury store in December 2009, and $1,558 worth of items the following month.

She was charged with two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, both felonies, but pleaded guilty to two lesser counts of petty larceny and was sentenced to consecutive terms of 12 months and three months.

McCloud's doctor had recently got in touch with the judge's office to say that McCloud had refused to stop smoking and missed several appointments and drug tests.

At the hearing, Judge Ricigliano told the woman: 'I will re-sentence you to the maximum amount of jail, without any problem.'

Mr Isaacs said the judge and prosecutors had been fair on McCloud.

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