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The failure of two New Jersey doctors to obtain the informed consent of their patient will cost them $9.7 million, a jury in Hackensack, N.J., has decided. Paul Furey, a computer consultant from Mahwah, N.J., sued hematological oncologists Andrew Jennis and Joel Brochstein after a procedure to remove his bone marrow for donation left him with limited mobility and chronic pain. In 1997, Furey was treated by the two doctors at the Hackensack University Medical Center after being contacted by the National Marrow Donor Program about donating his marrow to a leukemia patient. During the procedure, several needles were inserted into Furey’s posterior iliac crest, a hipbone with a great concentration of marrow. According to Furey’s lawyer, Adam M. Slater, the procedure helped to save the leukemia patient’s life but left Furey in constant pain. Slater said that while the doctors were operating, they stuck the needles into Furey’s pelvis several hundred times. At least once, a needle hit and injured Furey’s sacroiliac joint, which joins the pelvis to the sacrum bone in the spine, causing his injuries. Slater said that while the doctors denied that they had hit the joint, arguing that Furey’s injuries were related to an existing back condition, they ultimately stipulated to liability and failure to obtain informed consent. The doctors thereby admitted that Furey would not have agreed to participate in the procedure had he been aware of the risk of months of diminished mobility. Slater said that Furey would not have agreed to the operation if he thought that as a result he would be unable to run a marathon five weeks after going into surgery. Slater added that Furey’s athleticism played a large part in eliciting sympathy from the jury. “Furey was not just a recreational athlete. His family’s lifestyle revolved around athletics.” Slater said that since the operation, Furey has gained 50 pounds and is unable to engage in even mild forms of physical activity. Neither Jennis’ nor Brochstein’s attorney returned calls seeking comment. Plaintiff’s attorney: Adam Slater of Nagel, Rice, Dreifuss & Mazie in Livingston, N.J. Defense attorneys: Robert Polifroni of Hardin, Kundla, McKeon, Poletto & Polifroni in Springfield, N.J., and Kenneth Brown of Reiseman Sharp Brown & Rosenberg in Parsippany, N.J.

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