PITTSBURGH – The parents of an 18-year-old Ohio man who suffered a brain injury while snowboarding claim in a lawsuit that doctors at a northwestern Pennsylvania hospital intentionally killed him so they could harvest his organs.
The lawsuit claims that Hamot Medical Center doctors and a representative of the Center For Organ Recovery and Education caused Gregory Jacobs' death by administering medication and by removing his breathing tube, causing him to suffocate.
"But for the intentional trauma or asphyxiation of Gregory Jacobs, he would have lived, or, at the very least, his life would have been prolonged," the lawsuit said.
The suit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh by Jacobs' parents, Michael and Teresa Jacobs, of Bellevue, Ohio. It seeks more than $5 million for their son's pain and suffering, medical bills and funeral expenses, plus punitive damages.
The hospital denied the parents' accusations.
"We express our deepest sympathies to the Jacobs' family, but Hamot Medical Center absolutely did not remove Gregory Jacobs' organs while he was alive," Lucia Conti, a hospital spokeswoman, said in a statement issued Wednesday night. "Any claims otherwise are completely baseless."
The Center for Organ Recovery and Education, a Pittsburgh-based organization that helps hospitals procure donated tissue, declined to comment.
Jacobs fell on March 8, 2007, while snowboarding at Peek 'n Peak Ski Resort in Findley Lake, N.Y., and was flown to the Erie hospital, the lawsuit said.
The suit claims Hamot contacted the Center for Organ Recovery and Education about the donation of Jacobs' organs even though his parents, who were at the hospital, wanted him to live. CORE directed that Jacobs' organs be removed in the absence of a valid consent, the suit said.
"Gregory was alive before defendants started surgery and suffocated him in order to harvest his organs" including his heart, liver and kidneys, according to the suit.
The suit said Jacobs "experienced neither a cessation of cardiac activity nor a cessation of brain activities when surgeons began the procedures for removing his vital organs."
The suit said the Center for Organ Recovery and Education benefited by obtaining Jacobs' organs "for transfer and sale to other individuals, who then paid money, a portion of which went to CORE, for the wrongful procurement of the organs."