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A man from Texas found out the bone implanted in his neck to relieve neck pain was stolen from a corpse and now he is suing the medical technology company as well as some tissue processing businesses.

James Livingston filed a suit against Medtronic Inc. for fraud and negligence and is also suing Tenn.-based Sofamor Danek Inc.; Knoxville, Tenn.-based Spinalgraft Technologies Inc.; Alachua, Fla.-based Regeneration Technologies Inc.; Fort Lee, N.J.-based Biomedical Tissue Services; Michael Mastromarino and Joseph Nicelli. He has not announced any specific monetary amount.

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.

Mastromarino would replace the bones removed from the corpses with PVC pipe and would then sew the incision so family members would not notice at the funerals. He would then send the removed body parts to processing firms across the nation who would sterilize and then implant the body parts. This went on from early 2004 to September 2005.

After the investigation of Mastromarino, five different tissue processing companies recalled the items, as well as Medtronic Inc., who recalled about 16,000 bones and tested 12,000 to 13,000 people. So far no tests have shown results of infectious disease that could be traced to the recalled tissue and bone.

Although Livingston’s blood tests have shown no evidence of disease, he said he is worried about getting sick years from now. Knowing that the bone went through a sterilization process is of little comfort to him.

For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Medical Malpractice and Negligent Care.

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