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Firm with Atlanta plant named in body parts suit

May 9, 2006 | Cox News Service

Medicraft Inc., a hospital equipment manufacturer with a plant in Atlanta, has joined a short list of companies named as defendants in lawsuits stemming from New York's stolen body parts investigation.

Medicraft was named in a suit filed late Friday in Fulton County State Court by Darlean Adams, a Danielsville, Ga., woman who claims she received spinal grafts in February 2005 of material traced to the alleged New York scheme.

Adams claims in her suit that Medicraft "distributed the tainted allograft" that was implanted into her. She is seeking unspecified monetary damages.

Nearly 100 Atlanta area patients who received grafts of human tissue at six Atlanta area hospitals in the last two years have been told that the tissue may be diseased because it came from body parts stolen from funeral home corpses. The unidentified patients have been advised to be tested for HIV/AIDS, syphilis and hepatitis B and C because their graft material was not properly screened for the infections.

A Medicraft employee refused Monday to answer questions about Adams' lawsuit, but the firm's Web page indicated it manufactures sterile containers used to ship medical equipment and supplies.

A former New Jersey dental surgeon and three other men were indicted in February on charges that they secretly cut body parts from more than 1,000 funeral home corpses and sold them into the lucrative human tissue market.

Scores of lawsuits have been filed around the country by people who have been notified that the bone and tissue grafts they received over the past two years came from the alleged funeral home thefts.

Most of the lawsuits name the former dental surgeon, Michael Mastromarino, as a defendant, along with his company, Biomedical Tissue Services Inc., of Fort Lee, N.J., and several companies that received the material and processed it into products for use as grafts and implants.

After the alleged tissue harvesting scheme came to light, the Food and Drug Administration ordered companies that had received material from Biomedical Tissue Services to recall unused parts, and urged hospitals to have recipients tested for hepatitis, HIV-AIDS and syphilis.

Only a handful of recipients have said they contracted disease from the engrafted tissue.

Adams said her surgery took place at St. Mary's Hospital in Athens.

In a separate suit, Norman Zappa charged that spinal implants he received last June had been traced to the alleged harvesting scheme. Zappa's lawsuit, filed in DeKalb Superior Court in March, was shifted to U.S. District Court in Atlanta last week, records show.

In an interview Monday, Zappa said his surgery was performed at North Fulton Regional Hospital in Roswell. The hospital is not named in the suit.

Zappa, who said the surgery relieved pain he had experienced for more 30 years because of an industrial accident, has started an Internet forum for other patients who received questionable tissue.

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