Basinger, Julianne. U of Minnesota Surgeon Settles Lawsuit," The Chronicle of Higher

 

Basinger, Julianne. U of Minnesota Surgeon Settles Lawsuit," The Chronicle of Higher
Education, 19 December 1997, p. A39.

The University of Minnesota and John S. Najarian, an organ transplant surgeon there, have
agreed to an out-of-court settlement with a couple who charged in a lawsuit that their 2-year-old
son's death was caused by his treatment with a drug that Dr. Najarian had developed.

Both sides declined to disclose details of the settlement.

The lawsuit centered on the use of an experimental drug, anti-lymphocyte globulin, or ALG .Dr.
Najarian, a former chief of surgery at the university hospital, developed the drug, which helps
minimize the human body's rejection of transplanted organs. The university's surgery department
manufactured the drug and sold it, from 1970 to 1992, without the Food and Drug
Administration's authorization.

June and Paul Hoeffner, of Wolcott, N.Y., sued the university and Dr. Najarian in 1995, after
learning that a federal investigation of A.L.G. had linked the 1988 death of their son, Andrew, to
his adverse reaction to the drug, said the couple's lawyer, Les Gelhar.

The Hoeffners were advised by their doctors in 198X to take their son, who was born with a
severe kidney disease, to Minnesota because of a nationally recognized program for treating his
illness. Dr. Najarian then transplanted one of Mrs. Hoeffner's kidneys into Andrew. The lawsuit
said that the operation was successful, but that Andrew was given A.L.G. shortly afterwards, and
that the drug damaged the transplanted kidney.

Four months later, Andrew received a second transplant, from a cadaver. That kidney, however,
was a poor genetic match, according to the lawsuit, and the child died five months later.

The Hoeffners charged that the university had failed to follow proper standards for making and
testing the anti-rejection drug and that the child should not have been given the drug.

Minnesota's general counsel, Mark Rotenberg, said he believed the university and Dr Najarian
would have prevailed in court.

Dr. Najarian, who resigned as chief of surgery at Minnesota in 1993 but is a clinical professor at
the medical school, was attending a medical conference in the Philippines last week and could
not be reached for comment. Dr. Najarian was acquitted last year of criminal charges, including
earning profits on the sale of an unlicensed drug, stemming from the A.L.G. program.