Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Transplant soldier given smoker's cancerous lungs

By John Downing Cambridgeshire Journal

A SOLDIER who died of surgery complications had received cancerous lungs at Papworth Hospital from a donor who smoked up to 50 roll-up cigarettes a day, an inquest heard.

After the death of Matthew Millington, 31, an investigation at Papworth highlighted several problems, including issues with communication and recordkeeping.

It found a radiographer failed to highlight the growth of a cancerous tumor.

Dr Steven Tsui, clinical director of transplant services, was not involved in the procedure but told North Staffordshire Coroner's Court there had been problems.

He said there were "a number of failures" and the team did not perform to the standard he would expect.

Cpl Millington, of Brown Lees, near Stoke-on-Trent, enlisted at 16 and served as a tank crewman, left in 2001 but was recalled in October 2005.

While in Iraq with the Queen's Royal Lancers that Christmas he was diagnosed with a lung illness.

In April 2007 he received a double lung transplant but died 10 months later as a result of damage caused by disseminated lung cancer.

A lack of communication between hospital staff meant it was not until October 2007 that a tumor, which had grown from 8mm to 13mm between June and August, was detected.

Cpl Millington's widow Siobhan told the inquest he had surgery three times in nine days due to post-operative problems.

North Staffordshire coroner Ian Smith said Cpl Millington died from "complications of transplant surgery and immuno-suppressive drug treatment".

After the inquest, Cpl Millington's father Lester said he opted for treatment at Papworth on expert advice and the family were happy with his treatment.

He said: "We have absolutely nothing against them. It is a brilliant place and they are so friendly."

A hospital spokeswoman said all donor organs are screened rigorously prior to transplantation.

She added: "Using lungs from donors who have smoked in the past is not unusual. During 2008/09, 146 lung transplants were carried out in the UK. During the same period 84 people died on the waiting list.

"If we had a policy that said we did not use the lungs of those who had smoked, the number of lung transplants would have been significantly lower."

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1 comment:

Wellescent Health Blog said...

Such a mistake is disturbing and suggests a serious need for improvements in the organ donor selection process, the organ assessment process and in recipient follow up. Hopefully these findings can result in measurable change that will prevent another tragic loss of life.