“A Dud Pair”: Iraq Veteran Dies After Cancerous Lungs Are Used for Transplant

NTIIraq war veteran Corporal Matthew Millington, 31, of the Queen’s Royal Lancers, thought that he had beaten the odds when he was told that the hospital had located two new lungs for transplant after his lungs were destroyed by an incurable lung condition. However, instead of dying of the original condition, he died of lung cancer. The two lungs transplanted in his body came from a smoker who had a habit of 30 to 50 roll-up cigarettes a day. Millington who served in the army since his 16th birthday told his wife, “They’ve given me a dud pair” before he died of lung cancer in February.

Papworth Hospital in Cambridge insists that x-ray exams did not see the cancer and defended the practice of using the lungs of smokers.

The tumor itself was small but the drugs used to ensure acceptance of the lungs actually sped up its growth. He went through painful radiation and cancer treatment but died six months later.

We have seen cases of cancerous or tainted organs in transplant operations in this country, here and here. With new technology, it is hard to see how such transplants are not clear acts of malpractice. Moreover, I fail to see why the use of lungs by heavy smokers is not negligence by the hospital. This is like transplanting a cirrhotic liver from an alcoholic. In the United States, the hospital would be looking at a massive lawsuit.

For the full story, click here.

10 thoughts on ““A Dud Pair”: Iraq Veteran Dies After Cancerous Lungs Are Used for Transplant”

  1. Kaynes: That’s stupid. My husband is a kidney transplant patient. Those organs goes through a tough screening process before they are transplanted. Also, patients are told the condition of the donor prior to accepting the organ. The person my husband received a kidney from died of a sudden stroke, but was otherwise healthy. This person should have been told that the donor was an habitual smoker. But honestly, I think he was given the wrong set of lungs. These would never have been approved for transplant. Somebody messed up and messed up badly. It is every transplant patients nightmare. But people like you who think it can never happen to them can easily rationalized such an atrocity. You better hope you never need a organ transplant.

  2. Truth to be told, the number of available organs is so low that there’s no way they could issue 100% healthy ones to those on the waiting list. I guess it’s still better to live a few years than to die for sure tomorrow. Also, he could have been lucky. It didn’t work out as expected, unfortunately.

  3. “An example of National Health Care at work??”


    Having spent much time in private US Hospitals as a patient in extremis, I can say that the problems are endemic to medicine. The difference is that I at least had excellant health insurance that literally paid out more than a million dollars all told. If I was like the 40 million US citzens without it, I would have been dead 25 years ago.

    The problem with health care in the US and around the world is that it is dependent on fallible human beings and it is the wise patient who dares to question authority and becomes his own advocate, that has a greater chance of survival. In the early 90’s, after suffering a massive heart attack, I left the hospital I was in the next morning, without medical approval, because I suspected from the level of care I was getting they would have wound up killing me through incompetence. This was in the best hospital in one of the major US resort cities. Luckily too, I had my vigilant wife with me, who saw what was happening, supported my decision and thus kept me alive.

    In the sad story that initiated this thread, Corporal Millington was done in by incompetence, that his own due dilligence couldn’t have detected. This is a problem in all health care worldwide and not the fault of Britain’s NHS any more than the tens of thousands of US hospital deaths that arise from careless or incompetent treatment.

  4. Elaine,

    My wife does research involving samples (both tissue and just cells from flushing the lungs with liquid) from smokers lungs. I can say from some pictures I’ve seen, there’s a huge difference in just the samples, let alone the actual lungs.

  5. Mike S.,

    I do not know if the Great Britain structure is anything like the US DOD, but they get money and drugs from manufactures. I would not venture to say that the soldiers are guinea pigs but I would suspect that they are damn close as there is no liability for Governmental Negligence is malpractice cases.

    It is my understanding that the tissues are to be sampled before they are transplanted. A smokers lungs are not automatically disqualified. There may be some liability at the testing facility. The Doctors only care about the number of transplants that they have been a part of. This is a resume/ CV maker.

    Hence, the snarky first post.

  6. This vet was just given the shaft, one final time. This hospital should be paying out a monumental sum for this extreme case of negligence. Furthermore, the policy of accepting lungs from smokers is simply, insane. I feel for the family of this vet.

  7. All the crap governments spew about “honoring their brave soldiers”
    is just so much self-serving propaganda to get young men to waste their lives in service to politician’s egos and corporations thirst for money. I honor people who believe and serve, but revile those who trick them into doing it by false emotional appeals and hollow promises of suture assistance.

  8. This is just awful. I cannot believe that the government would do something like this. Wait, yes I can, they do a case study on each and every person that has an organ transplant. Hmmm, sounds like Dr. Mengele is alive and well cloaked by the invincibility of the governance that he serves.

    Link: http://www.remember.org/educate/medexp.html

  9. I had the impression that the lungs of heavy smokers looked different from healthy lungs. I thought they looked dark or had black spots from carbon deposits. Wouldn’t the doctors have had some clue the lungs that they implanted in Millington may not have been healthy? I wonder where they got the lung from.

    I remember a few years ago when Alistair Cooke’s bones were stolen by a criminal ring before his body was cremated. The bones were sold for about $7,000 to tissue processing companies. Cooke had had lung cancer that had spread to his bones.

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