They told us our dad get­ting can­cer af­ter his trans­plant was just dread­ful co in­ci­dence ... but that wasn’t true

Pa­tient dies af­ter lethal liver trans­plant Daugh­ter re­veals fam­ily’s loss, shock and anger

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - FRONT PAGE - By Mar­ion Scott

The first vic­tim of a dou­ble trans­plant tragedy, who died af­ter get­ting can­cer from his new liver, can be re­vealed to­day.

Tom Tyre­man, 63, died af­ter get­ting an or­gan from the same donor who gave a kid­ney to Pauline Hunt, 49. Since his death, she has been di­ag­nosed with the same lethal can­cer.

Mr Tyre­man’s fam­ily were not told his new liver had given him a ter­mi­nal ill­ness un­til weeks af­ter his death in Fe­bru­ary. Sur­geons ini­tially in­sisted he must have al­ready had can­cer.

How­ever, a post mortem on the dad of two re­vealed he had con­tracted can­cer from the liver do­nated by a 57-year-old woman. His widow Judy, 63, said: “Un­til then, we’d been re­peat­edly told that Tom must have had bowel can­cer be­fore his op­er­a­tion.

“The sur­geon in­sisted Tom must have had the can­cer even though he’d been taken into the hos­pi­tal to un­dergo three days of test­ing and been given a clean bill of health be­fore the trans­plant could take place.”

Mr Tyre­man’s daugh­ter Emma said: “We were told dad must have had can­cer be­fore he got his trans­plant, or it was some kind of ter­ri­ble co­in­ci­dence, but that wasn’t true.”

The truth emerged af­ter Judy called the New­cas­tle Coro­ner’s Of­fice sev­eral weeks af­ter the post mortem. She said: “They told me that DNA tests car­ried out at Tom’s post mortem proved the can­cer cells were fe­male and had

come from the liver donor. Dur­ing all the meet­ings we had with the sur­gi­cal team and trans­plant team, no­body sug­gested there was a pos­si­bil­ity of this hap­pen­ing.

“We were told years down the line Tom might be more sus­cep­ti­ble to can­cer, not that he could die within weeks of the pro­ce­dure from can­cer passed on by the trans­planted liver.

“It was sup­posed to give him a new lease of life, but it killed him,” added Judy.

Mr Tyre­man’s fam­ily were only in­formed he had can­cer two days be­fore he died on Fe­bru­ary 5, at the Free­man Hos­pi­tal in New­cas­tle, two months af­ter his trans­plant.

They chose not to tell him as he was too ill by that time and they wanted to spare him more an­guish.

Af­ter an in­quest at New­cas­tle Coro­ner’s Court in Septem­ber, his death cer­tifi­cate records that he “con­tracted can­cer from the donor liver which metas­ta­sised ag­gres­sively and caused his death”.

His fam­ily were never told that an­other trans­plant pa­tient given an or­gan from the same donor had also con­tracted can­cer.

They only learned about Pauline, from Ayr­shire, last week when they read her story in The Sun­day Post.

The two fam­i­lies are now in con­tact and de­ter­mined to es­tab­lish what hap­pened and en­sure lessons are learned.

Judy added: “We’d been to­gether for 44 years, al­ways at each other’s side. Tom was al­ways a hard worker, and loved his job run­ning a go-kart­ing cir­cuit, where he was man­ager.

“But the real joy in his life came from our fam­ily.”

Dad to Jonathan, 33, and daugh­ter Emma, 30, his life was turned up­side down two years ago when, af­ter feel­ing un­well for sev­eral weeks, he was di­ag­nosed with a fatty liver.

Judy said: “It was a se­ri­ous ill­ness, but for some rea­son Tom re­ceived no treat­ment.

“A year ago things wors­ened. He was told he had cir­rho­sis and needed a trans­plant.

“Tom was only on the trans­plant wait­ing list for three weeks when we got a call say­ing a liver was avail­able.

“I’ll never for­get him jok­ing when he signed the con­sent form. He said: ‘I don’t know if I’m sign­ing my own death war­rant here’. In fact, he was.

“To think we’d all been elated think­ing what a mir­a­cle he hadn’t had to wait too long for a trans­plant when that would be what killed him.”

Like Pauline Hunt, Tom seemed to thrive for the first few days fol­low­ing the trans­plant but within a cou­ple of weeks, warn­ing signs be­gan to ap­pear.

Tom was in ter­ri­ble pain, breath­less and cough­ing.

Judy said: “We called the Free­man only to be told to take him to our lo­cal A&E, de­spite hav­ing been warned to keep Tom away from other peo­ple to pre­vent him get­ting in­fec­tions.

“We were in­cred­u­lous, and called the trans­plant ward and ICU to point out this could be dan­ger­ous.

“In­stead of act­ing on our con­cerns, both de­part­ments told us to go to A&E de­spite the fact no­body would know him or be ex­pert in trans­plants or what to look for if a trans­plant went wrong.

“The A&E reg­is­trar told us Tom must have a virus and sent us home.

“Tom was sup­posed to be seen weekly af­ter the trans­plant by his spe­cial­ist, but be­cause it was over Christ­mas and New Year, even

‘ It was sup­posed to give him a new lease of life, but it killed him in­stead

‘ He joked that op con­sent was him sign­ing his own death war­rant. In fact, it was

those clin­ics were re­duced to ev­ery fort­night.”

Un­for­tu­nately, by early Jan­uary, Tom’s con­di­tion had de­te­ri­o­rated sig­nif­i­cantly. He was in grave agony and his fam­ily rushed him back to the hos­pi­tal.

Judy said: “He was so bad, af­ter be­ing sent back to A&E, we took his hos­pi­tal bag with us, con­vinced that this time he’d be kept in. De­spite our con­cerns, he was sent home once more.

“I’m con­vinced it was a case of the hos­pi­tal be­ing full over the week­end. By the Mon­day, Tom was so ill and in so much pain, the only way we could get him into hos­pi­tal was in a wheel­chair. This time the hos­pi­tal ad­mit­ted him. He never came home again.”

Two weeks later, his fam­ily were fi­nally told he had can­cer.

Tom’s sis­ter, Jane Bird, 57, said: “The trans­plant con­sul­tant in­sisted Tom must have had bowel can­cer be­fore the trans­plant took place.

“There was cer­tainly no sug­ges­tion or even con­sid­er­a­tion that he could have con­tracted can­cer from the donor’s liver. Within two days, our Tom was gone.”

Judy said: “We have never been given an ex­pla­na­tion over why it took them two whole weeks to even dis­cover he had can­cer. Surely that’s unac­cept­able in this day and age?

“There was an in­quest in Septem­ber when we asked whether any­thing could have been done to save Tom’s life if the hos­pi­tal had iden­ti­fied that he had can­cer sooner.

“But an in­quest does not ap­por­tion blame, and of course Tom’s trans­plant sur­geon re­fused to ac­cept that it could have made a dif­fer­ence.”

Pauline Hunt, who has been di­ag­nosed with lethal can­cer af­ter get­ting a kid­ney from the same donor, said: “We can’t help Tom’s fam­ily bring him back but to­gether we can fight to make sure this doesn’t hap­pen again to any other fam­ily.”

Pauline has been told she is too ill for chemo­ther­apy and says she has asked doc­tors not to tell her how long she has to live.

She said: “I have lost loved ones to can­cer. I don’t want to know.”

Tom Tyre­man, at wed­ding of his son Jonathan last year, died af­ter his trans­plant

How we broke the story last week

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