NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The widely reported liver transplant at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital to alleged killer Johnny Concepcion never took place, a spokesperson told Reuters Health on Tuesday.
On Monday, the New York Post said Concepcion, 43, who allegedly stabbed his wife to death earlier this month, had gotten a liver transplant at the hospital after eating rat poison in a suicide attempt.
The story quickly took off, making headlines such as msnbc.com’s “Many outraged as accused murderer gets liver transplant” and CBS News’ “Suspected Killer Gets Organ Transplant, Jumped to Top of Waiting List.”
Liver failure from poison can sometimes kill people much more quickly than a chronic condition such as cirrhosis. That’s why a victim of poisoning may move ahead of other patients who’ve spent more time on the liver transplant waiting list.
But Bryan Dotson, a spokesperson for the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, said the New York Post report was wrong.
“This person did not receive a liver transplant at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital,” he told Reuters Health. He declined to make further comments, as hospitals often do in an attempt to protect patient confidentiality.
It is unclear whether Concepcion had been taken to another hospital to receive a new liver.
Detective Marc Nell, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department, confirmed that Concepcion had been arrested on July 7 in the Bronx in connection with the murder of Jordania Sarita two days earlier.
He told Reuters Health the police are still working on the case.
He said Concepcion had been transported to the hospital by ambulance, but did not know when this had happened.
The alleged incident prompted Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and an msnbc.com contributor, to call for legislative action.
Caplan said a hospital wasn’t the place to make ethical judgments about patients, deciding who deserves care and who doesn’t.
“At the end of the day if you are furious that Johnny Concepcion is still alive to face trial you should blame politicians, not doctors,” he writes.
The NY Post took down its story, “Suicidal ‘killer’ gets liver transplant,” on Tuesday morning.
“The Post relied on two NYPD sources for its report and it is now evident they were misinformed,” the paper said in a statement. “We apologize to our readers for the error.”
The paper said it had contacted New York-Presbyterian for a response before publishing its story, but that the hospital said it could not discuss individual cases because it would be in breach of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
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