Jennifer Wederell, who had cystic fibrosis, received a lung transplant less than a year ago that she believed would save her life; instead, the lungs that belonged to a 20 pack a day smoker caused her to die of lung cancer, multiple news reports said.
Cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disease that causes the "lungs and digestive system to become clogged with thick, sticky mucus" also claimed her brother, Richard Grannell, at the age of 23, the reports said.
Wederell, 27, who was diagnosed at the age of two with cystic fibrosis, received her new lungs in April 2011.
After postponing her wedding for nearly two years, in hopes that she would receive a transplant, she married in September 2011
“Weddings are always happy, but this was something else,” her husband, David Wederell, told the UK Telegraph.
Their happiness would be cut short after she was diagnosed with lung cancer that had already spread to other organs in March 2012; she succumbed on Aug. 24, he said.
According to the Daily Mail, Wederell was treated at Harefield Hospital, in Uxbridge, West London, under an old protocol that did not require her doctors to inform her about the status of the lungs she was receiving; despite a recent revision of transplant guidelines that stated patients should be made aware if donated organs pose a risk of cancer.
David Wederell told the Telegraph that it would have been easy for doctors to tell them, “The donor was a smoker, therefore there is a higher risk of malignancy. Do you want to go ahead or not?”
"They didn’t mention it. If they had, she would have said 'no,'" he said.
Along with David, her father, Colin Grannell, and his wife, have started a Facebook page called Jennifer’s Choice aimed getting more non-smokers to register as organ donors.
"All we want is to give Jennifer what she would have wanted. People need to be given more information. There must be more choice and more transparency," he told the Mail.
Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust released a statement of condolences to the family, noting that patients usually do not refuse lungs that come from smokers and said that Jennifer Wederell should have still had the option.
"Regrettably, the number of lungs available for transplantation would fall by 40 percent if there was a policy of refusing those which have come from a smoker; waiting lists would increase and many more patients would die without a transplant," said a spokesman.