Lyndsey Scott, a 28-year-old transplant recipient, thought her life was about to be saved. But the lungs she received belonged to someone who had smoked for 30 years.
Five months later she was dead.
That’s according to British paper the Daily Mail, which says the cystic fibrosis sufferer – who was passionately anti-smoking – was never told about the lifestyle of the donor.
“For someone to have a major operation like a double lung transplant and not be given all the facts is unthinkable,” her father, Allan Scott, told the Express. “I can honestly say she would have been horrified to have known those lungs were from a smoker.”
Lyndsey Scott, who lived near Manchester, England, eventually died from pneumonia. That’s a common problem for both chronic smokers and people with cystic fibrosis, so it would be difficult for doctors to directly pin her death on the transplant.
And her options were bleak. According to the Express, Lyndsey Scott was diagnosed with the disease at three months of age and had become very sick in the last few years. She was on the waiting list for a new lung for four years.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that attacks the lungs and pancreas with a thick layer of mucus. Patients can have terrible intestinal problems and trouble breathing. Many die as children. Few live normal life spans.
But Lyndsey Scott had high hopes that a lung transplant could help her fight on.
“It would have meant that her quality of life could be improved and be better than she was used to,” her father told the Express. “I think the average life expectancy of someone with a double lung transplant is approximately five to seven years. Some live longer.”
British doctors have fiercely defended their actions, citing a shortage of lungs as the reason for loosening the criteria and allowing in donors with less-than-perfect medical histories.
According to the Daily Mail, a spokesman for the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Wythenshawe Hospital where the surgery took place, said, “Because the number of lung donors is extremely low and 30 percent of lung recipients die before getting a transplant, UHSM and other transplant centers have extended their criteria.”
“This is increasing the number of viable lungs available for donation that are still considered to be ‘safe,’” he said.
But that isn’t much solace for Lyndsey Scott’s family.
“A couple of weeks before she died, she said ‘I wished I’d not gone through with it,’” her sister Karen told the Daily Mail. “Those words have really come back to haunt us.”
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