The national scandal involving the harvesting of illegal body tissue has found its way to a Mason City hospital. Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa confirms fewer than 25 patients received unscreened transplant bone and tissue from certain lots provided by Medtronic, a Minneapolis medical supplier, that were illegally harvested.
Doctor Darren Lovick, of Neurosurgery Services of North Iowa, confirms the cases in a written statement to the media that some patients received questionable tissue during procedures.
Lovick says Mercy has attempted to contact all the patients that received the tissue from Medtronic either by telephone or letter. Patients who have not been contacted by Neurosurgery Services are not at risk of having received the tissue. Medtronic spokesman Bert Kelly says all parts they buy are thoroughly cleansed and sterilized.
Kelly says “What we are distributing are usually bone grafts, they’re dowels or plugs or chips made from this recovered human tissue, human bone.” New Jersey-based Biomedical Tissue Services, or B-T-I, is accused of collecting body parts without donor consent and selling them to processors for use in hospital transplants nationwide. Medtronic says it bought the parts from the processors, not from B-T-I.
Kelly says they received at least eight-thousand pieces that originated from B-T-I, many of which are the subject of a recall. Kelly says “We feel that the tissue is safe, it has been cleansed, it has been sterilized and that’s why the F-D-A termed it a low risk recall.” Medtronic’s spine division reports using some of the parts they received indirectly from the company being investigated, B-T-I, thinking they had been thoroughly cleansed and sterilized.
A class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the victims involved in the multi-million-dollar body parts ring. Of the four defendants named, one was the head of the biomedical firm, the other three worked at funeral parlors.