Organ donation provides a second chance at life for thousands of people every year. Currently, over 100,000 patients are waiting for an organ transplant. Earlier this month at one Texas hospital, there were 330 patients waiting for a transplant. Unfortunately, because of a medical mistake by the hospital, the wrong patient received a kidney transplant. Remarkably, the patient who did receive the transplant was a match for the kidney and, therefore, no harm was done to that patient. Sadly, the intended recipient never received the transplant making that patient a clear victim of medical malpractice.
Every year, there are medical malpractice lawsuits involving patients receiving surgery on the wrong body part. This has resulted in various wrong site surgeries, including those involving the wrong limb being operated upon and the wrong breast being removed. Few if any medical malpractice suits have been filed in which the wrong patient received an organ transplant.
In the Texas kidney transplant case, the patient who received the transplant intended for another was very fortunate the kidney was compatible for them and there were no apparent complications. The hospital that committed the mistake suspended its transplant program in order to determine how the error occurred and, perhaps more importantly, how to prevent the error from occurring in the future. While the program is shut down, a spokesperson for the hospital did say that if another transplant becomes available, the surgery can be performed at another hospital. It is unclear, however, whether a new kidney transplant was ever found for intended recipient or whether the recipient is still waiting.
According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, there are 114,774 people are waiting to receive an organ transplant. Every day, about 18 people will die while waiting for a transplant. The good news is that just 1 organ donor can save up to 8 lives. For information on how to become an organ donor, visit the Department of Health & Human Services website: http://www.organdonor.gov/becomingdonor/index.html. There, potential donors can find information on how to register to become an organ donor in their state and help give another person a second chance at life.
WFFA-TV, Methodist Dallas Suspends Program After Kidney Transplant Error, July 5, 2012.
US Department of Health & Human Services / Organdonor.org, Viewed July 26, 2012.