The Ohio hospital where an operating nurse accidentally disposed of a viable kidney will resume live kidney transplants in the next few weeks, officials said. Live kidney transplants at the University of Toledo Medical Center had been voluntarily halted after the Aug. 10 incident. After numerous reviews and some policy changes, the hospital’s decision to restart the program was affirmed last week by the United Network of Organ Sharing, according to Dr. Jeffrey Gold, chancellor and executive vice president for health affairs at the university.
The hospital apologized and put two nurses and an administrator of surgical services on paid leave after a donated kidney apparently was put with medical waste instead of going to the intended recipient in what medical experts described as a rare accident. The hospital had, the following week, resumed deceased donor transplants, but voluntarily suspended the live program pending internal and external reviews. Gold said the reviews resulted in procedural changes that officials believe will keep the mistake from happening again.
“Today we complete the next step in a difficult journey, but one I think unquestionably made us a stronger, safer hospital,” Gold said. He stated that the hospital has stayed in close communication with those affected by the error and remains committed to their medical care. The hospital, citing privacy laws, hasn’t named the man who donated the kidney and the intended recipient, his sister, and won’t say whether she received a different kidney.
A report by a surgeon hired by the hospital to review its transplant program called it “baffling” that the nurse would accidentally put the viable kidney with medical waste, but found no problems with the systems or the culture at the hospital that would have indicated it was at risk for such a mistake. Another report conducted by the state for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said poor oversight and communication, and insufficient policies were factors in the kidney’s disposal.
UTMC has performed about 1,700 kidney transplants in the past 40 years, with a 98 percent success rate.
Kidneys are the most commonly transplanted organ. More than 5,700 kidney transplants involving living donors and 11,000 with deceased donors were performed last year in the U.S. UTMC performed 16 of those living-donor kidney transplants and 37 deceased-donor transplants in 2011. “This is very much a signature program of our university,” Gold said. UT President Lloyd Jacobs said teaching hospitals such as UTMC, “have an obligation to share what happened with the medical community so we can all learn and improve.”