Posted On: October 20, 2011 by Andrew G. Slutkin

Medical Mistake Regarding Organ Transplant Leads to Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

A couple in Pennsylvania has filed two medical malpractice lawsuits following, what should have been, a routine organ transplant.

The couple alleges that the organ transplant went awry when, despite test results indicating the donor-spouse had hepatitis C, the hospital transplanted her kidney into her husband. Hepatitis C is an incurable infectious disease that attacks the liver causing a wide range of problems including damage, cirrhosis, cancer or failure. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here

The first lawsuit was filed against the hospital and various staff members. The suit, filed by the donee and the donor, alleges negligence. The couple states that the donor’s blood results were available months before the organ transplant, but that the hospital and physicians missed them. The organ transplant, which took place in April, was preceded by a blood test on January 26 which indicated that the donor had hepatitis C. The hospital never notified the donor of these results or disqualified her as an organ donor. Another test, which occurred weeks after the organ transplant, also indicated the presence of the infection. It was not until a month after the kidney transplant had taken place when the donor was notified of these results.

The second lawsuit claims that physicians provided the donor with the option of keeping her infection a secret from her long-time boyfriend, despite the transplant of the hepatitis C kidney. The suit also alleges that the physicians made several accusations against the donor, including her having cheating on her boyfriend and having used cocaine. The Pennsylvania couple has been together for 21 years and they have an 18-year-old son.
The hospital has stated that the transplant was a “medical mistake” and an investigation was completed; the results found that human error was to blame. This mistake comes after guidelines were recently issued by the CDC to reduce the risk of transmitting disease during organ transplants, specifically focused on donor screening.

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