Are Organ Transplant Errors Common?
There are few medical procedures as extensive and complicated as organ transplants. To raise the stakes even higher, patients needing transplants often require them as a life-saving measure. When a patient undergoes an organ transplant, there are always risks, and patients should be fully informed of these risks. However, when someone involved in the transplant process makes a mistake, the results can be devastating or fatal.
Tragic Organ Transplant Errors
Organ transplant errors don’t happen every day. But when they do happen, these incidents are often widely reported due to the tragic results. For example, in 2018, an organ donor passed away in an emergency room in South Carolina. A man in South Carolina received the donor’s lungs, and a Tennessee man received the liver. The blood type of the donor had been misrecorded, however, and the bodies of both recipients “rejected” the organs. While the liver recipient survived (after a second transplant), the lung recipient died. This incident brings back memories of another widely reported transplant error, a 2003 blood type error that resulted in a teenage girl losing her life after a heart and lung transplant.
These are the kind of medical errors that when you learn of them from a television news reporter, your mouth drops, and you shake your head mumbling, “whaaaaat?! They didn’t double check the blood type?! Are you kidding, me?!”
Errors in the Transplant Process
Many different parties are involved in the transplant process, including:
- The hospital where the donor dies
- Organizations that assist in matching donors with recipients
- Transportation services to properly move the organs
- The transplant team at the recipient’s hospital
- Medical professionals involved in aftercare of an organ recipient
All of these parties must work together and strictly follow procedures to prevent errors during every step of the process.
For example, it is essential that the blood type of the donor match that of the recipient; otherwise, the recipient will reject the organ, often putting them in a life-threatening condition. In the 2018 incident, the organ donor had received a massive blood transfusion during life-saving attempts by the hospital. This rendered a blood type test inconclusive.
Despite the inconclusive test, the organization that facilitated the organ match recorded the donor’s blood type as Type O, which was incorrect. They are uncertain why this happened, but it was a fatal error for one recipient.
Blood type errors and similar mistakes involving organ transplants should never happen. There should always be enough safeguards, such as requiring multiple blood tests, to prevent these errors. In most situations, the safeguards work. However, when errors go unchecked, people lose their lives.
When serious medical errors result in complications, injuries, or death, the parties that made the errors should be held responsible for medical malpractice. It is important for patients and their families to seek help from highly experienced attorneys who handle complex and high-stakes cases like these.
Consult with an Ohio Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you or a loved one was the victim of an organ transplant error - or any other type of medical error - you should not delay in learning about your rights from an Ohio medical malpractice lawyer. For a free consultation with The Eisen Law Firm, please call 216-687-0900 or contact us online.