A new lawsuit accuses the New York Organ Donor Network of pressuring hospital employees to prematurely declare patients brain dead so their body parts could be harvested.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday night, alleges that the New York Organ Donor Network pressured doctors to sign off on patients as brain dead, even as one former NYODN employee says patients moved and at least one tried to breathe on their own.
Patrick McMahon, who filed the Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit, said he was fired as a NYODN nurse practitioner in 2011 as a transplant coordinator for the Network after being called a “troublemaker” for protesting the practice.
“It was like a horror movie,” McMahon told Metro. “I would show them that somebody has brain function and that they’re moving, and in one of the cases the person I was working with … I said, ‘Do you see this?’ and she goes, ‘What kind of life would they have anyway?’ And this person had been signed off on dead.”
He added, “It was just appalling.”
For example, the lawsuit cites an example of a 19-year-old who was in a car wreck and admitted in critical condition. The teen made an effort to breathe and showed other signs of brain activity, according to the court documents, but the Network allegedly “aggressively pursued” having him declared brain dead.
The lawsuit also recounts a woman given a paralytic before the operation, which court documents note as “out of the ordinary" because organ donors should be already deceased and not need muscle paralytic.
“I want the courts to intervene and stop this behavior,” McMahon said. “I want people to know that this is out there.”
In a statement, the Network said their employees play no role in declaring brain death.
“The allegations made by a former employee are baseless and an affront to the work that the New York Organ Donor Network is doing in the New York City area to save and improve the lives of New Yorkers through organ donation and transplantation," the statement added.