Lawsuit: Transplant Patient Dies After Receiving 'Diseased' Heart

This hospital's got no heart, a grieving family says.

A Queens, New York dad died in agony just days after surgeons at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan shockingly transplanted a "diseased" heart into him, a bombshell lawsuit claims.

And lawyers for the family of Ronald Bello say New York-Presbyterian has since failed to turn over documents that would show if doctors knew the donor heart was badly flawed, or if crucial tests on the organ were ever done before it was harvested.

"It is outrageous that a hospital harvested a heart that on a [later] autopsy was proven to have vascular disease, and implanted that heart into a recipient, which caused his death," said lawyer Stuart Finz of the firm Finz & Finz.

"They either knew, or should have known that this was a diseased heart."

Bello, 49, a JetBlue airlines systems operation manager, had heart problems for several years before March 2006, when he was placed on a list to receive a heart transplant.

Although the dad of three needed a new heart, "he could have probably lived a few more years" while waiting for a proper one, said Finz.

Bello and his family thought their prayers had been answered when New York-Presbyterian informed him that a possible donor had been found.

"This donor was in Florida, and this [Presbyterian] harvesting team goes down and evaluates the medical history of the transplant donor . . . If they believe it's a suitable donor, they then harvest the heart and race back to Presbyterian," said John Kanzler, another Bello family lawyer.

On Nov. 26, 2006, New York-Presbyterian surgeons transplanted the organ into Bello.

Less than a week later, on Dec. 2, Bello was stricken with "great pain, agony," as his new heart massively hemorrhaged, according to the lawsuit filed in Queens Supreme Court. He died that day.

The family's lawyers say New York-Presbyterian stonewalled their efforts to learn what the harvesting team did in Florida.

"Although Presbyterian claims they did an angiogram in Florida on the particular donor, they have failed to produce a single document to support the fact that they did any tests to determine that the heart was appropriate," Finz said.