Investigation: Tissue And Organ Donations Can Save A Life But At What Cost?

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — CBS2 Investigative Reporter David Goldstein talks to a father whose 23-year-old son was killed in a car accident.  Dennis Carrico claims he only gave permission to a non profit organization — One Legacy — to donate some of his son’s tissues, but later found out they took his entire heart — and much more.

Carrico takes a walk three or four times a week, listening to the wind chimes and looking at the memorial he erected on the spot where his son Kristopher was killed.

“Whenever I hear the wind chimes, I know that Kristopher is here,” he said.

Kristopher died in a car crash last year in Riverside County.

He was a star athlete at Hamilton High School. His dad still proudly displays his letterman jacket. His mom still tears up and says she cannot find the strength to talk about what happened.

“It was the worst day of my life. It was completely unexpected. I was just in shock and bewilderment; I didn’t really know what to do.”

Kristopher was not an organ donor, but within hours after his death, his dad got a call from a woman representing One Legacy, an organ and tissue recovery organization in L.A.

“They wanted our permission to have some tissue donated, and I asked her, ‘Well, what kind of tissue?’” Carrico said.

He said he gave permission to donate some of Kristopher’s ligaments, tendons and his pericardium, the sac around the heart, in the hopes of giving others the gift of life.

But when Carrico got the autopsy report he found they took a lot more.

“They removed the upper and lower leg bone and they removed the heart, not just the sack around the heart. They took his whole heart out, which really hurt me very deeply,” Carrico said.

The hurt was magnified when he says he called One Legacy to complain and found out that they may have received money for recovering his son’s tissues, which he says he thought were being donated.

“That made me feel like I’ve been used, treated like a chump,” he said.

One Legacy is based here in L.A. and is the only organ and tissue recovery organization in Southern California. If you agreed to donate organs through the DMV, it will be handled by One Legacy.

Former employees we spoke with, who wanted to remain anonymous, claimed that what happened with the Carrico’s, has happened to others.

Said one former employee, “It’s about omitting information and deceiving families and being evasive about information to get that consent for donation.”

This person claims employees are expected to get a certain number of donations each day and that sometimes means avoiding talking about tough subjects like money.

“When we explain ‘for profit’ statement on the consent form some families will ask, ‘Will anyone profit from this?’ … a lot of us will be evasive.”

Another former employee says it changed her opinion of donating.

Are you a donor, she was was asked.

“I was.  When I walked in the door I was a registered donor.”

And now?

“No, I’m not because of what I saw there”

Goldstein spoke to One Legacy CEO Tom Mone. “It is absolutely against federal law to sell organs and tissues.  And they are not sold.”

Mone says they’re never sold — but the organization is compensated by tissue processors for the cost of recovering tissue.

Goldstein asks, “Isn’t cost of recovery a fancy way of saying you make a profit?”

“No,” says Mone, “because profit has a very clear definition in the world and we cannot be a for profit organization, we must be non profit.”

However, Mone says every non profit strives to have a positive bottom line. To survive.

And he does earn a big salary: $661,355

According to IRS returns we’ve obtained — Mone made more than $661,000 in 2009. That includes a $54,000 bonus.

Mone makes more than comparable CEOs in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, but says that One Legacy is the largest organ and tissue recovery organization in the country, if not the world.

“All compensation at One Legacy and at any hospital I’ve ever been at as well is based upon a comparison of peer salaries across the industry being in our case, the organ and tissue industry, and the hospital industry from which we hire most of our staff.”

Mone also denies that employees are deceiving families.

“They are not instructed, they have never been instructed and there has never been a quota at One Legacy.”

But in Kristopher Carrico’s case — Mone wrote a letter to his father saying their employee “did not fully explain that the whole heart must be recovered.” And admitted — “this individual will receive additional training.”

Dennis Carrico hopes people don’t lose the trust in organ and tissue donation.

And despite what happened with him, he hopes that Krisotpher’s tissues are helping others to live on.

“They say as long as your name’s remembered, that your always alive.”

David Goldstein, CBS2 News

More from David Goldstein
Comments

One Comment

  1. S. Smith says:

    Yup this is a black eye for donation

  2. Chris says:

    This story is can only provide harm to the organ donation community. Our daughter received a new hear this year and a second chance at life. The truth of the matter is that everyone should be an organ and tissue donor. There are over 110,000 people waiting for an organ today and every day 18 people die waiting. My interaction with OneLegacy has been very positive and we are so thankful for the work done by this organization and DonateLIFE.

  3. Joel says:

    People should not profit from Organ Donation. There should be some type of oversight on how much executives of thses so called “Non-Profit Organizations” can be compensated. $661,000 is more than what most CEOs make. Non-profit organizations should be transparent and justify the costs involved for Organ donation.

  4. Shweinhund says:

    One Legacy is not the “only organ and tissue recovery organization in Southern California”. Their Jurisdiction ends at the southern border of Orange County. San Diego and Imperial Counties use Lifesharing which is part of UCSD and is based inSan Diego.

  5. Bob says:

    How sad that CBS 2 should choose to run a story about the astonishing miracle and life saving medical technology concentrating on one donor father’s misunderstanding, the salary of a CEO who is responsible for saving thousands of lives every year, and impugning recompense for offering tissue to research organizations.

    Rather that you report on the vast majority of donor families who find some gratification that their tragic loss has benefited others so that they may live and continue to be sons, daughters, mothers and fathers. There is so much right about organ donation, there are stringent guidelines to the entire process and anonymous sources do nothing to inform the truth about the extraordinary good being done by One Legacy.

    Shame on CBS for besmirching the legacy of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite this this FOX type “fair and balanced” “investigative” report.
    Bob (LIver transplant recipient, 2004)

    1. Concerned Citizen says:

      We shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, but that’s not to say that the bathwater shouldn’t be thrown out.

      It is true that organ and tissue donation helps people – saves lives. It is also true that there are many who benefit from this process at levels that anyone can call profit, in the common (as opposed to technical or legal) sense of the word. Both points of view can be correct at the same time.

      Think about the ethical situations that develop when profit-making attitudes – especially by top management – begin to sneak into this particular industry. It’s important, so it shouldn’t be dismissed.

      The information about the CEO’s salary is public information – nonprofits are required to publish certain financial specifics publicly. The information about the CEO’s salary is interesting, especially in context. From the same IRS filing that Mr. Goldstein used (accessible via http://www.guidestar.org), we can see that Mr. Tom Mone’s compensation for 2009 (the latest info available) was $661,355, and the company’s revenue less expenses was $6,105,997. This means that the CEO’s compensation was over 10% of revenue less expenses. Furthermore, if we look at 2008’s figures, we can see that revenue less expenses was $6,429,145 (more than 2009) and the CEO’s compensation was $516,326 (less than 2009). How can a CEO’s compensation increase by 22% in one year when net revenues decreased by 6%? Also, it’s interesting to note that in 2009 the second-highest earner, Prasad Garimella, took home $517,814. So, in 2009, the top two executives in this noprofit organization that employs not more than 250 people took home $1,177,681 – that’s a hair under 20% of net revenue. Does this make sense?

      This story, taken on its own, may present the issue in a simplistic way. However, it’s a good starting point in the discussion. I think the organ and tissue procurement industry as a whole in the US is highly ethical – something we can be thankful for. It will remain so if we continue to be vigilant, and continue to ask and answer questions when faced with questionable situations.

  6. Ken says:

    What a horrifying story! Without a heart and leg bone, God won’t allow Krisotpher into heaven!

    1. CM says:

      I agree with Vicky! SHAME ON YOU CBS!!! and sorry for your loss Carrico family BUT the biggest gift of life is to be able to save anothers – shame on you too for being interviewed for such a terrible story – what are you trying to get out of this??? I couldn’t even bare to watch the whole thing – disgusting!

      PEOPLE, PLEASE STAY/BE ORGAN DONERS!!! WE NEED YOU!!!

    2. H.B. says:

      Dear Ken, if you believe in God, then you must also believe that He gave us this body for here on earth and that will give us a brand new beautiful body when we get to heaven. The truth is that our body turns into dust on earth anyways. That is why God, who is all powerful, will give us a brand new healthy body in heaven! So, feel free not to be afraid to help someone when your time has come. I know I have registered to be a donor and hope that I can be donor in my passing. I hope you do the same. You can save and enhance upto 50 lives through tissue donation. The Carrico family made an amazing decision and their son will help so many! I hope that one day they will find peace and feel pride in that amazing decision that they made.

  7. Sandy says:

    I have been a huge fan of this news network however this story has changed my mind. One Legacy HELPS and does not HURT Organ & Tissue Donation. This story is very irresponsible of this network to run without the facts and for those who choose to listen shame on you for being ignorant. There’s always three sides to the story and I am sure this child’s Father during his moarning process did not have a clear mind and possibly was not paying close attention to what was being instructed. I wish One Legacy would put out the recording for all of you to hear.

  8. Jess says:

    As a beneficiary from a heart that saved my life, I feel ashamed from this CBS report, that instead of educating the community is trying to discredit the organization. You put a lot of emphasis on what the CEO makes, which shouldn’t be the issue. Instead, why don’t you let the public know how many lives are saved each year because of the work One Legacy does? What value can you give to all the lives that have been saved? In my case, I hold a full-time job and lead a very happy life with all my family that wouldn’t have been possible without the great work that One Legacy does. Please CBS don’t be so critical of the great job this organization is doing. I hope someday you won’t find yourself in my shoes and find out that people would say NO to the possibility of saving or improving your life through organ and tissue donation!!

  9. Vicky says:

    Shame on CBS 2 News for this reckless report! I hope you’re aware that your despicable reporting has cost people’s lives! Many of your viewers (which I’m sure are millions of them) have now been influenced by this report. With this significant influence, for those millions of people who are currently on the waiting list to receive either organ or tissue transplant, will now have to wait longer and perhaps die from the prolonged wait.
    I’m 27 years old and was an organ recipient when I was only two years old. Because of OneLegacy’s mission to provide quality life for both organ and tissue donors and recipients, I’m living a full and active life. Not only has my life been benefitted through OneLegacy’s work but all the infinite amount people (family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, strangers, and etc.) within my life has benefited as well. As Jess from above have stated, I also hope that if any of you, especially you Mr. Goldstein, “won’t find yourself in my shoes and find out that people would say NO to the possibility of saving or improving your life through organ and tissue donation”.
    I urge you to issue a recall on this report and issue an apology statement to not only OneLegacy but also to the community in which you serve and the people and families you’ve hindered their quality of life.

  10. Kitty says:

    Bad call Mr. Goldstein!! next time use a good judgment and make sure you are getting information from honest, reliable people instead a few losers before you put your “investigations” on the news. These are COWARDS that had to hide their identities…WHY? The only reason I can think of is a bad Botox injection or a poorly done nose job!! Or a lazy, fatty a$$ that want to get free money….get some education to be a better human being, stop being a Social Grudge!!!
    To the shadows: Talking about transplant….these two need a brain transplant!! Talking about profit…stop getting “profit” from false claims, government assistant, etc. because this money comes from the taxes of honest people that REALLY work. Talking about donation, let’s start a fund raiser and have the money donated to the shadows so these two can get a psychiatric treatment. DISGUSTED shadows!!! I do not sympathize with liars….everyone on this video is lying!

  11. KITTY says:

    Bad call, next time use a good judgment and make sure you are getting information from honest, reliable people instead a few losers before you put your “investigations” on the news. These are COWARDS that had to hide their identities…WHY? The only reason I can think of is a bad Botox injection or a poorly done nose job!! Or a lazy, fatty a$$ that wants to get free money….get some education to be a better human being, stop being a Social Grudge!!!
    To the shadows: Talking about transplant….these two need a brain transplant!! Talking about profit…stop getting “profit” from false claims, government assistant, etc. because this money comes from the taxes of honest people that REALLY work. Talking about donation, let’s start a fund raiser and have the money donated to the shadows so these two can get psychiatric treatment. DISGUSTED shadows!!! I do not sympathize with liars….everyone on this video is lying!

  12. Debbie says:

    Go Vicky!! For this one mourning, upset father there are hundreds if not thousands of families out there who have had their tragedy turned into a meaningful experience by OneLegacy. Their respect and kindness for the families is amazing. I know that OneLegacy has a Family Services department that honors the families at a annual ceremony, offers grief counseling and other services for the next 2 years or as long as they are needed. I personally know many of those families having been a part of the transplant community since 1999. You can’t recall this report, the damage is done, but you can offer an apology to OneLegacy and the opportunity to tell the truth about organ and tissue donation. We need to get this link out so more people can urge CBS to apologize. I thought “CBS Cares”.

  13. H.B. says:

    Clearly, from all the comments above, Mr. Goldstein made a very bad decision in pursuing such a irresponsible and unbalanced storyline. The organ and tissue donation industry is very closely regulated. Major mistakes happen every day in hospitals and they continue to operate. If a major mistake happened in the organ and tissue industry, the program is shut down. OneLegacy is just as closely surveyed as every other Organ Procurement Organization. If things were happening which were outside of the federal and state regulations, it would not be operating anymore. If anyone has any concerns on the operations of OneLegacy they should report it to the appropriate regulatory organizations, not strive to destroy public trust with an irresponsible story.
    I am very sorry for the Carrico family’s loss. Grief is a very difficult time and causes people to remember things differently then they actually were. Sadly, this report chose to exploit a grieving family’s situation than help and support them by pointing them in the right direction for the help that is available. Also this report chose to provide a very unbalanced perspective. The worst thing is that it is likely that this irresponsible report will cost lives as people who watch it and may be faced with the tough decision to donate and don’t know the REAL facts, may be swayed to say “no” and on the other end 18-20 people die every day waiting for that life-saving transplant. Mr. Goldstein, I have a question for you, clearly you would not be a donor yourself, otherwise you would not pursue such an irresponsible story, but would you every accept an organ and/or tissue transplant if you needed one? In fact, aren’t you a ‘hair transplant’ recipient? It looks that way anyway…my apologies if you are not, but chances are very high that you might well need surgery one day where some cadaver tissue is utilized. I suggest you begin to interview all of the amazing donor families and recipients of organs and tissues to learn the TRUTH and redeem yourself by providing a correct and balanced report.

    1. Robert F. Hickey, Ph.D. says:

      Not regulated closely enough! OneLegacy as well as other Organ Procurement Organizations (OPO) have had little oversight brom either state or federal regulators. The media has shed light over the years on the routine greed of the OPO.

      Donor families have been lied to and cheated with ruthless means employed to coerce families into giving up loved ones organs. No one is ever told those organs will generate tens of millions of dollars in annual revenues to unethical organizations such as OneLegacy.

      I suggest a call be put out and interviews conducted with families of those thousands who die each year because they nor their families can afford organ transplants due to the artificially inflated organ procurement fees levied by supposed non-profit agencies!

      1. Jim Locke says:

        Apples and oranges, Dr. Hickey. Organs and tissues are indeed donation avenues but are vastly different and cannot be lumped in the same category. In fact a category for tissues was created by the FDA as they are neither a strict biological nor are they strictly a device.

        Organs are procured and placed by the OPO and all costs associated with that are divided amongst all of the organs resulting in a ‘standard acquisition charge.’ The government audits those costs annually in most instances.

        Tissues, however, undergo several stages depending on the organization involved at a particular stage. Some are merely tissue procurement while others process the tissue into usable grafts while others distribute the grafts. LifeNet is one such organization which does all three phases of the tissue side.

      2. Robert F. Hickey, Ph.D. says:

        Splitting of hairs does not change the fact that OneLegacy like all other OPO charge exhorbitant fees which are totally unsupported by actual costs. There is nothing that Tom Mone or any other exec or manager of an OPO do intheir daily duties to justify a salary of more than $600,000.00. There is no excuse for OneLegacy execs to spend more than $340,000.00 on Rose Bowl week parties as has been in an audit by the Inspector General of HHS report released on 01/28/10.

        People are dying because they cannot afford an organ transplant even if they could get one while To Mone and other OPO managers of his ilk enrich themselves and party.

        Hopefully, on going meetings with the Office of the Inspector General and representatives of the Office of the Secretary will bring an end to this greed. We may be able to even see some prosecutions!

  14. Robert F. Hickey, Ph.D. says:

    OneLegacy is not the largest Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) in the country. Tom Mone has had trouble with accuracy. LifeNet of Virginia Beach is the largest in the counrtry with more than $138 million in revenue from organ procurement fees (organ sales). The OPO in Tampa had total revenue of more than $70 million. Data was taken from 2009 IRS 990 non-profit tax returns.

    OneLegacy is a vile organization. It should be closed down! An Office of the Inspector General for H&HS revealed that OneLegacy spent more than $341,000.00 for Rose Bowl parties in Pasadena in 2006. The money was spent on New Year’s Eve entertainment, alcohol, limos, flowers, and gifts. OneLegacy charged these funds to Medicare as direct patient services and education!

    No one ever gets an organ donated to them for transplantation in a time of need. However, Tom Mone and his buddies become millionaires!!!

  15. The Mad Man says:

    “If you agreed to donate organs through the DMV, it will be handled by One Legacy.”
    READ THE FINE PRINT! Know what you are signing and what you are donating! If you read an autopsy report, you will understand what is done in an autopsy and what the families don’t always know. Lean to read the fine print before you decide to ‘save a life’!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More From CBS Los Angeles

KNX 1070 Newsradio
Play.It

Listen Live