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'Infected' Donor Kidney Killed Retired U.S. Marshal, Wife Claims, and Docs to Blame

A Romeoville man who was a retired Chicago police officer and U.S. marshal died after a kidney transplant at Loyola University Medical Center, and his wife claims the organ was infected.

A kidney transplant gone bad killed a retired Chicago police officer and U.S. marshal instead of saving his life, according to court papers filed last week on behalf of the dead man's wife.

Kathleen Murray of Romeoville, the wife of Gerald Murray, claims in her Nov. 9 petition that "Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network knew or should have known before the October 25, 2011, transplant that the kidney was or may have been infected."

The petition also blames staff from Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, claiming the transplant team "should have discovered that Mr. Murray's kidney was infected."

The petition seeks to identify the kidney donor, something neither Gift of Hope nor Loyola seem willing to do, according to the court papers.

"The only information (Murray) has about the donor is from the Loyola University Medical Center records which state, 'Donor was a 62-year-old man who died of stroke, and had minimal increase in creatine,'" the petition says.

Kathleen Murray is also trying to get the reports from the autopsy performed on the donor, and information on when and where the autopsy was performed.

Gerald Murray was 65 when he died on May 16. According to the petition, filed by Joliet attorney Theodore Bednarek, Gerald Murray was diagnosed with fungal meningitis during the last week of November 2011, about a month after the transplant.

Alison Smith, the vice president of operations for Itasca-based Gift of Hope, said organ donors' identities cannot be revealed. However, her organization does provide information about the circumstances of organ donation, she said.

"It's really not about the individual, it's about the medical issues surrounding the death of the donor," Smith said.

Likewise, the identities of organ recipients are confidential. Recipients and donor families can only be informed of their respective identities if they independently request it, Smith said.

Bednarek said the petition is a preliminary step in possibly filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

"It's the start of attempting to identify who may be responsible for (Murray's) death," Bednarek said.

The petition names three doctors, two nurses and a transplant coordinator, and requests that they sit for depositions.

Loyola spokeswoman Anne Dillon released a statement about the petition and Gerald Murray's death.

"Federal HIPAA law that protects patient privacy prevents us from commenting directly on any patient seen at LUMC," Dillon's statement reads. "However, as a leading transplant center, Loyola University Medical Center follows strict protocols and procedures as required by organizations such as the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and the Centers for Disease Control. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family."

Rebecca Farwell November 15, 2012 at 10:45 AM
My heart goes out to the widow here. I too lost a husband following a transplant and know the devastation and sense of betrayal. I have subsequently founded a support group to help those in similar situations http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/bereavedbylivingdonation/
Lorraine Hawks November 15, 2012 at 02:38 PM
My name is Lorraine Hawks and I am the Lahey live donor liver transplant widow. I am so sad to read this. Another example of the dark side of organ donation.

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