Cornea transplant - Another big tissue scandal rocks field

Discussion in 'Optometry Archives' started by Ventr2far, Sep 5, 2006.

  1. Ventr2far

    Ventr2far Guest

    As if transplant patients didn't have enough to worry about!

    Another big tissue scandal rocks field
    Staff and agencies
    27 August, 2006

    By MARILYNN MARCHIONE, AP Medical Writer 3 minutes ago

    It could have ended three years ago, when a leaky FedEx box containing
    an arm and legs turned up in Missouri. Or years before that, when a
    judge convicted him of embezzling money from the sale of a corpse that
    belonged to a medical school in California.

    By then, he had supplied hundreds of tissues for knee repairs, spine
    surgeries and other medical procedures around the nation, many of them
    allegedly procured in an unsterile funeral home embalming room.

    Despite his conviction, he twice was able to register companies with
    the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to provide tissue for
    transplants.

    Guyett, 38, denies any wrongdoing, and insists he went out of business
    on his own accord some months back. No one yet knows how many people
    received tissue he supplied or what risks they may face. Companies have
    been quietly recalling his products from doctors and hospitals since
    early July.

    Donated cadaver tissue is used in more than a million procedures each
    year, and most of these operations do a lot of good.

    "In this business what really rules is: Do you have the goods? Can you
    give the body parts that I need? If you have a sketchy background, that
    doesn't really make a difference. People just want to get the parts,"
    said Annie Cheney, author of the book "Body Brokers."

    "Our mission," he said when pitching tissue donation to residents of a
    suburban Raleigh retirement home last year, "is to give donors and
    their families an informed choice when considering making an anatomical
    gift." In a video of the May 2005 talk, his audience, which included
    funeral directors, is seen applauding at times.

    The resume also lists Guyett as a "forensic specialist" from 1993 to
    1997 in the Clark County, Nev., coroner's office. But that title
    isn't used at the Las Vegas agency and Guyett only volunteered there
    some weekends between 1994 and 1996 and was not a paid employee, said
    Coroner Michael Murphy.

    Undisputed, though, is that Guyett was an administrator at the willed
    body program at Western University in Pomona, Calif., in 1999 when
    police charged him with selling a cadaver to another school and keeping
    the $1,100 payment.

    By the fall of 2003, he was in Las Vegas, registering Donor Referral
    Services with the FDA as a human tissue business. Soon afterward,
    Missouri police discovered human limbs in a leaky FedEx container
    Guyett's company had shipped to a Missouri man who provides body
    parts for medical research and teaching. Much ado about nothing, Guyett
    told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

    "Boxes break," the newspaper quoted him as saying. "If a box leaks and
    it's carrying a cornea, no one freaks."

    At the time, Guyett and his second wife, Jennifer, lived in Henderson,
    a Las Vegas suburb, in a four-bedroom home bought in November 2002 for
    $258,676.

    But business apparently was slow. Officials at virtually every funeral
    home and crematorium in Las Vegas told the AP they didn't do business
    with him, or even know him.

    By the summer of 2004, Guyett was planning to relocate.

    Larry Parker, president of Cremation Society of the Carolinas, a
    Raleigh funeral home, got a call from Guyett, whom he didn't know,
    saying he was thinking of moving to be closer to the East Coast tissue
    banks he worked with.

    By November 2004, Guyett had sold the Nevada house, with a profit of
    nearly $200,000, moved to Raleigh, and was paying Parker $1,000 for
    each successful donor family he referred and use of his embalming room.


    "If they said, 'yes,' that's as far as we went," and Guyett would
    take over, interviewing the family about the donor's medical history
    and suitability for transplant and obtaining consent, said Parker, who
    added that he had never been involved in tissue procurement before but
    became convinced "there's a terrific need out there."

    Guyett tried to drum up business at a seminar sponsored by the Funeral
    Consumers Alliance of the Triangle and the American Association of
    Retired Persons; this was the gathering captured on video. Guyett
    played a funeral director in a skit involving a family arguing over
    whether to donate a dead father's organs and tissues. Parker narrated
    the skit.

    Guyett also pursued a related business - recycling titanium screws,
    implants and pins left over after cremation. Randy Bright, owner of
    Covenant Cremation Service in Wake Forest, N.C., was among those who
    let Guyett take these materials.

    "There's no money exchanged at all," Bright said. "What are we going
    to do with them? We had no idea. It didn't cost the family or
    anything for that. And we didn't really have a way to dispose of
    them. ... It sounded like a good situation."

    When Guyett proposed expanding the recyling business through the
    Cremation Association of North America, he made business claims that
    have come into question. He gave Jack Springer, the group's executive
    director, a list of 10 mortuaries that he said he dealt with regularly.
    Reached by AP, at least two - Miller-Jones of Hemet, Calif., and
    Serenity Mortuary Service of Phoenix - said they didn't know Guyett
    or his company.

    "He had never done anything with us," said Timothy Hassett, owner of
    Serenity.

    Likewise, Mike McGhee, general manager of Forbis & Dick Funeral Service
    in Greensboro, N.C., said he had no idea why Guyett listed his company
    as one of his business affiliates.

    "I have been here for 27 years, and I can assure you that our firm has
    never had any dealings with this gentleman," he said. "This is
    abhorrent and repugnant to me," McGhee said of the concerns about
    Guyett. "I intend to find out why he used our name."

    Guyett even claimed a relationship with the federal government, telling
    the seminar crowd: "Over the last six months, we've recovered over
    1,000 tissue specimens that were sent to the National Cancer Institute
    for research. Eighty percent of those donors were also accepted for
    transplant allografts."

    A cancer institute spokeswoman said neither Guyett nor his firm has
    been a supplier.

    The FDA closed Guyett's Raleigh operations down on Aug. 18.

    According to the FDA's order, Guyett altered paperwork on the health
    history and age of at least five dead donors, eliminating mention of
    factors like cancer and drug use that might make them ineligible.

    In a brief interview last week at his two-story brick home in Wakefield
    Plantation, a new and upscale subdivision in north Raleigh, the
    goateed, slightly balding Guyett said the FDA did not force him out,
    and that he had done nothing wrong.

    "I closed on my own free will to pursue other ventures. I'm out of
    the tissue recovery business as of December," Guyett said.

    Yet as recently as three months ago, Guyett repeated requests to David
    Campbell, owner of Cape Fear Crematory in Stedman, N.C., to use his
    facility on the outskirts of the Fort Bragg Army base to harvest
    tissues and medical implants. As he had in the past, Campbell declined,
    and said, "I'm kind of glad from what I'm seeing in the press these
    days."

    The Guyett case follows that of Biomedical Tissue Services, a
    now-defunct New Jersey company accused of plundering corpses for tissue
    without families' permission, including the body of "Masterpiece
    Theatre" host Alistair Cooke. A former dentist, Michael Mastromarino,
    and three others face charges in that scandal.

    That company, like Guyett's, was not accredited by the tissue bank
    association. There are more under-the-radar tissue brokers out there
    than the FDA would like to think, said Areta Kupchyk, a former FDA
    attorney who helped write tissue regulations and consults with tissue
    companies.

    "He's probably an example of many small-timers around the country,"
    Kupchyk said of Guyett. "They're the ones that are the most
    dangerous. They get a small niche and they can cause a lot of trouble."


    ___

    Contributing to this story were science writer Seth Borenstein in
    Washington, national writer Allen G. Breed in Raleigh, N.C., AP writer
    Adam Goldman in New York, Western regional writer Angie Wagner in Las
    Vegas, and researcher Judy Ausuebel in New York.
     
    Ventr2far, Sep 5, 2006
    #1
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