RALEIGH, N.C. -- Philip Guyett, who pleaded guilty in March to mail fraud for his handling of human tissue he recovered at funeral homes and then sold for use in bone grafts and other procedures, was sentenced in U.S. District Court Monday.
Guyett was sentenced to 8 years. He was taken immediately into custody despite asking for time to shut down his business and see his children once more.
Starting in 2004, Guyett operated a company in Raleigh called Donor Referral Services, which was registered with the Food and Drug Administration to collect human tissue, including tendons, skin and bone, from recently deceased donors.
The tissue goes through a cleansing process, and is then used in spinal surgeries, knee replacements and other procedures.
Guyett worked with local funeral homes, and on several occasions falsified records that would have shown some of the donors to be ineligible. In one case, he altered evidence that a donor had liver cancer and sepsis. Another case flagged by FDA inspectors indicate Guyett falsified the cause of death of a patient who showed signs of intravenous drug use -- a problem that could have tainted the donor's tissue with infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
The FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations launched a probe in June 2006, and shut him down that August.
But tissue collected from his donors made its way into material that was subsequently transplanted into patients across the country. Some have written statements to the court noting their fear and long-term worry that they may be stricken ill because of the tainted tissue. At least one lawsuit has been filed against Guyett. A man in Ohio, who had knee surgery, sued Guyett amid worries the tendon implant he received is faulty, and could lead to infection, disease or another surgery.
Since pleading guilty, Guyett has been living and working in California. He now operates a scrap metal recycling business.
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