Imagine you are awaiting a transplant as a last measure to cope with kidney failure. Your brother donates his kidney to save your life, but a nurse throws it in the garbage before it can be transplanted. It sounds like fiction, but it actually happened to a young woman scheduled for a transplant in a university medical center. The kidney her brother donated was thrown into the trash. Doctors tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate the organ. The patient suffered through months of dialysis and had four operations before she finally had successful surgery in a Colorado hospital.
Both the transplant patient and her brother are now in good health, but the donor lost a kidney in vain. He could be at risk if something endangers his one remaining kidney. If she had received her brother’s kidney, the patient would be better off because it was a perfect match and the risk of organ rejection would have been lower.
The family decided to sue the medical center that was responsible for throwing away the organ and seeks damages of $25,000 per family member. The hospital admits that a nurse threw out the kidney, but is asking the court to dismiss the case, saying it was not negligent. The medical center claims it has performed 1400 kidney transplants over four decades, with a 98 percent success rate. One nurse was fired after the incident and another resigned.
Surgical error can result in significant suffering or even death. In cases of improper handling of transplant organs or a surgical error, a medical malpractice attorney may be able to investigate the claim, determine who was at fault and seek fair compensation.
Source: ABC News, “Toledo Hospital Threw Out Donor Kidney, Now Denies Negligence“, Susan Donaldson, August 29, 2013