Patients Transplanted with Stolen Bones on NHS Consider Legal Action

Contaminated body parts


Following the BBC Real Story Programme on 29 November 2006 looking at the story of the stolen bones scandal in the US and the implications in the UK, National law firm Irwin Mitchell have had a number of enquiries from patients worried they may have received body parts from this criminal enterprise following routine operations on the NHS.

In October, Irwin Mitchell announced that it would be acting for a number of UK patients who had pieces of bone, stolen from bodies in the US including the body of broadcaster Alistair Cooke, used on them during routine medical procedures in hospitals throughout the UK.


Stolen body parts used in transplants

Over 1,000 body parts are thought to have been stolen by gangs in the US who then sold them on for transplant. The bodies were illegally obtained from mortuaries in New York and bones, ligaments and skin were harvested for use in transplants and sold to New Jersey tissue recovery business Biomedical Tissue Services (BTS). Some of this material was then exported to the UK.

BTS was forced to close by the US Food & Drug Administration late last year after allegations that it had forged documents to obtain access to bodies from undertakers.

Despite a recall in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) late last year it is believed that it was too late to retrieve all pieces of bone from British hospitals, some of which had already been used on patients including Suzanne Green (32)

Illegal implant victim

Mrs Green from Caerphilly, near Cardiff, was one of the patients treated with suspected stolen body parts. Mrs Green was being treated for a fractured spine and ankle at the University Hospital of Wales during September 2005. Mrs Green said "I can't believe what is happening, it's horrific.

"I did not even know I had received a bone graft during my operation until September of this year. I am now in torment wondering whether I have contracted anything from these illegal implants. I am awaiting the results of blood tests to see whether I currently have any of the possible infections identified, but I am unsure at the moment what the long term implications with be."

Stolen body parts solicitor

Clive Garner from Irwin Mitchell solicitors, who are acting for the clients, said "This is only the tip of the iceberg, in total 25 hospitals across the UK have been identified as having received body parts from this illegal operation. At present we do not know just how many people have been treated with these bone products."

Mr Garner continued "We expect to hear from many more people treated in the hospitals identified by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and we would urge all those people who believe they may have been affected to speak to their clinician, and seek appropriate legal advice urgently."

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