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Scott Kappes
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Texas Man Files Suit Over Stolen Bone Used in Implant

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I read a very odd story in the Chronicle today about a Texas man who is suing a medical technology company and several tissue processes sing businesses. In 2005 James Livinston underwent surgery to implant a bone in his neck to relieve persistant back pain. It was later discovered that the bone was stolen from a corpse. Livingston has now filed a lawsuit in New York and is monetary compensation for the alleged negligence and fraud.

It turns out that a New Jersey based company called Biomedical Tissue Services run by Micheal Mastromarino and Joseph Nicelli allegedly stole body parts from corpses without consent.

New York authorities believe Mastromarino, owner of now-defunct Biomedical Tissue Services, made deals with funeral directors to remove bones, tendons and heart valves from corpses without notifying their families or screening for disease. He has pleaded innocent to charges that include a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

Nicelli is a former funeral parlor owner and embalmer who also has pleaded innocent to charges in the case.

The body parts were shipped nation wide in 2004 and 2005 and it is not clear how many patients received stolen bone or tissue as implants. The main concern here would be that the stolen tissue is not test for disease and could result in the recipient being infected with an ailment. The parts were sterilized by the distributors and there have however been no reports of disease linked to the stolen implants.

A voluntary recall was issued as a result of a New York investigation. Livingston shows no signs og sickness but says he is worried about getting sick years down the line.

“My biggest concern is: Nobody really knows,” Livingston said. “And there’s a part of me that really does want to give that bone back.”

For more information on this subject, please review our section on Drugs, Medical Devices, and Implants.