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Smokers Welcome? Lawyers at Console & Hollawell Warn Against New Study Claiming Smokers’ Lungs Okay for Transplant Recipients

Marlton, NJ (PRWEB) February 01, 2013

Using the lungs of a heavy smoker in an organ transplant sounds like a bad idea, right? The recipient of those lungs could suffer additional complications related to regular tobacco use, even develop cancer. A new report from the Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia challenges that belief with some hard evidence, according to NBC News. Analysis of lung transplant data from 2005 through 2011 by Temple researchers reportedly shows lungs transplanted from smokers with pack-a-day habits for more than 20 years are ‘likely safe.’ Personal injury lawyer Richard P. Console Jr. disagrees with this assertion from a patient safety standpoint.

“Patients must be able to make informed choices about their healthcare options,” he said. “Doctors don’t typically tell transplant patients that they’re about to receive tissue from someone who may not have treated their body so well. If they develop lung cancer, it’s not a difficult leap to identify the event that led to the disease. Without informed consent, doctors could be liable for the additional harm transplant patients endure.”

Temple University Hospital’s study claims about 13 percent of double-lung transplants performed in the United States come from donors who were heavy smokers. That figure would mean 767 out of the 5,900 transplants analyzed used tissue from those who smoked a pack a day for 20 years, or two packs a day for 10 years. While general guidelines dictate that those who smoked are barred from organ donation, there are circumstances where they could be used, according to NBC News. For example, in cases where donors are otherwise healthy, with no signs of serious effects of long-term tobacco use, including emphysema, lung tissue could be eligible for donation. Console, whose law firm has won multiple million-dollar personal injury awards, believes doctors walk a dangerous line when it comes to using lungs from smokers.

“I’m sure a dying patient would take any lung regardless of whether it’s a smoker’s lung or not,” he said. “What doctors have to balance here is allowing patients to trade one type of death for another without prior knowledge. They need to know the risks, and it’s the duty of doctors to inform patients of just what they’re getting into before surgery.”

The study concluded that patients who received tissue from smokers lived just as long and as well as those who obtained lungs from non-smokers, according to NBC News. No significant difference in the rate of cancers was found, though the study did not specifically examine occurrences of lung cancer.

Richard P. Console Jr., the managing partner of Console & Hollawell P.C., has been practicing personal injury law since 1994. His firm has obtained compensation for more than 5,000 clients, including those who suffered injuries as the result of medical misdiagnosis and doctor negligence.

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