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Rare surgery mistake leads to discarded organ

A rare situation involving a discarded donated kidney is raising some eyebrows. The donated kidney, meant for a recipient, was instead placed in medical waste. The recipient was forced to wait for another kidney. Those who are waiting for a donor organ understand how serious this situation is; it can be excruciating waiting for the right match to come along.

Surgical errors like this often lead to extensive internal and external review procedures in an effort to determine what may have gone wrong.

The administrator of surgical services for the hospital involved, who lives in Michigan, is not commenting on the situation. The University of Toledo Medical Center has placed him and two nurses on paid leave. The living-donor kidney program at the hospital is currently suspended while health officials review the incident. Because the donor program is shut down, the facility notified nearly 1000 patients and possible organ donors and recipients that they might need to look elsewhere for services.

So far, the hospital has not publicly discussed the details of the incident or how the kidney became unusable during the procedure. In a transplant procedure, the donor organ is transferred to a container and then to the nearby recipient. But for unknown reasons, someone mistakenly thought the donor kidney was already transferred to the recipient's body.

According to the local health commissioner, the doctor involved said that a nurse disposed of the kidney by accident. The donor and recipient have both been released from the hospital but the hospital cannot say whether the patient found a different donor.

Patients place a large amount of trust in their health care providers. When it comes to donor surgeries, there are two patients involved and double the risk. Donor procedures also come with high hopes and expectancies because patients may have waited a long time to find a match.

Regardless of the type of surgery, if there is medical negligence on the part of a doctor or nurse that leads to injury, there may be civil liability. A Michigan surgical errors lawyer can help patients and families evaluate their options.

Source: Associated Press, "Surgeon, officials review Ohio transplant error," Kantele Franco, Aug. 30, 2012

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