TAMPA (FOX 13) - Duane Mulville was a father of six and just 48 years old when he suddenly died last June. His wife Beverly, believes he may have suffered a heart attack -- and says it's important to find out.
“For the kids, genetically, it’s so important to have an autopsy done, just to make sure there’s no genetic factors for them, and we rule any of that out,” she said.
But the family may never know for sure. Duane was registered as an organ donor on his driver's license. And in the hours after his death, she says she started getting phone calls from LifeLink, a Tampa-based organ recovery agency.
“[The LifeLink employee] wanted to know if I would agree to donate Duane’s organs," she said.
Mulville says she agreed to letting LifeLink take Duane’s eyes but she said "no" to taking his heart.
LifeLink took it anyway, leading Beverly to file a lawsuit, citing negligence.
“They completely deceived me," she said. "It was trickery. They stole his heart, pressured, and they lied to me. They lied to me.”
LifeLink isn’t commenting on the case, citing the active lawsuit, but says it abides by laws governing organ and tissue donation.
The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, first enacted in 1968, says a donor's decision is final -- and cannot be revoked by surviving family members or anyone else.
Mulville hopes her story can raise awareness about the finality of the decision to become an organ donor.
“This shouldn’t happen to any family," she added. "You know it’s hard enough to lose your loved one and then you feel like you’re getting toyed with.”
Though an autopsy was performed without the heart, she says the possible cause of death was heart disease. At this time, Mulville doesn't know where her husband's organ is.