A Donated Kidney Gone to Waste

Contact An Agent

With at least 118,617 people waiting for organ or tissue donations annually in the US, this makes every donation a life-saving act. With to the scarcity of donors, however, about 18 people die every day due to failure in acquiring the organ that is also much needed by patients nationwide.

Due to the severity of the medical blunder wherein a good, viable kidney was accidentally thrown in a waste can, a lawsuit was filed against the University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC) in Ohio by the Fudacz family. The scenario of the case involved Paul Fudacz Jr., 21 years old, who donated his kidney to his 24-year old sister Sarah, in August of 2012. Diagnosed with late-stage renal failure, Sarah was deeply relieved after finding out that her younger brother, a perfect match, was willing to donate the kidney that she badly needed.

The team at the UTMC, where the surgery was performed, included surgeon Dr. Michael Rees and two nurses, Judith Moore and Melanie Lemay. Records showed that Lemay, who took charge as Moore went on a lunch break, failed to update Moore upon her return regarding the status of the surgery. Unaware that the donated kidney was still contained in the slush machine, nurse Moore mistakenly emptied its contents even before the surgery was finished.

The doctors found out about the accidental disposal of the kidney already two hours after the incident and since their attempt to resuscitate the biowaste-contaminated organ proved unsuccessful, they decided against using it, but consulted with Sarah’s family and told them of another possible compatible donor. The needed kidney was found in Colorado three months after; during which, Sarah had to undergo dialysis treatment, extending her suffering and causing her, her brother Paul and the rest of the family deep worry and stress.

Despite covering Sarah’s travelling costs to Colorado where she had a successful organ transplant, the Fudacz family filed a medical negligence case against the hospital. Meanwhile, Judith Moore resigned within a month after the incident, while Melanie Lemay was dismissed from her job.

Miscommunication, or the lack of it, is one of the reasons why medical mistakes take place. There are other reasons why surgical mistakes happen, more complicated ones, but miscommunication is definitely one issue that can easily be solved with enough diligence on the part of all concerned.