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Aborted kidney transplant could spur lawsuit against hospital

The family of a patient waiting for a kidney transplant must have felt great relief when their loved one was about to receive a kidney from a living donor. Unfortunately, mishandling of the organ by healthcare professionals at the University of Toledo resulted in a cancellation of the surgery as the kidney was judged to be unusable. The living-donor transplant program at the University's Medical Center was suspended as a result. Will this hospital error result in a medical malpractice case against the medical center? Some experts think it is likely.

While medical malpractice is not always easy to prove, in the present case, it is apparently unquestioned that something went awry, resulting in the loss of the precious kidney. Suitable transplant organs are very rare as the organ must match certain aspects of the recipient's blood type and other factors. In this case, the organ was to be donated through a process known as "living-donor" transplant. The donor in these types of transplants volunteers to give an organ, often to a family member, to prevent the person staying on a list for years waiting for a suitable match.

It is hard to imagine the emotional suffering the family experienced when they learned of the mistake that could easily have been prevented and that resulted in an organ that could not be used to save a loved one's life. Because the hospital is affiliated with a university and is thus a state institution, its employees -- who are state employees -- are given civil immunity. However, it would seem likely that some sort of lawsuit would develop from this situation.

Source: The Toledo Blade, "Family in kidney case could sue UT," Erica Blake, August 24, 2012

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