Man dies from tuberculosis after being treated with tainted bone repair product

INDIANA – A Greene County man died at IU Health Bloomington Hospital from tuberculosis after a spinal surgery that involved recalled human cadaver tissue, a new lawsuit alleges.

Gregory Flinn, 73, of Bloomfield, had surgery at the Bloomington hospital in early April and died there on May 23. He served as a Greene County Reserve Deputy Sheriff and was an engineer with the Naval Surface Warfare Center – Crane Division, a Navy Veteran (AD1).

Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs. The bacteria that cause tuberculosis are spread from person to person through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes.Many tuberculosis strains resist the drugs most used to treat the disease. People with active tuberculosis must take many types of medications for months to get rid of the infection and prevent antibiotic resistance.

The family has filed a lawsuite in Marion Superior Court alleging Flinn’s death was caused by a bone repair product contaminated with tuberculosis.

FiberCel Fiber Viable Bone Matrix, manufactured by Aziyo Biologics, Inc. and distributed by Medtronic is a fiber-based surgical bone repair product made from human tissue and and is used in orthopedic or reconstructive bone-grafting procedures in combination with autologous bone, other forms of allograft bone, or alone as a bone graft. A contaminated single lot of FiberCel was recalled on June 2 after some implanted patients were found to have post-surgical tuberculosis infections.

The contaminated FiberCel was used in 113 patients in 37 facilities across 20 states, with the most reported in Delaware and Indiana.

In June 2021, the first known FiberCel lawsuit was filed in a Delaware state court on behalf of a patient who was diagnosed with tuberculosis after undergoing spinal surgery in April.

This FiberCel lawsuit accuses Aziyo Biologics, Inc. (FiberCel’s manufacturer) and Medtronic (the exclusive distributor) of failing to:

  • Adequately obtain and review donor medical history
  • Design, manufacture, and test the product to ensure it was free from contamination
  • Issue a timely recall of the product
  • Warn consumers of the risk of contracting tuberculosis

The Indiana State Health Department is investigating at least 30 cases in 19 Indiana counties. Officials can not release information on those cases due to privacy laws.