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UH kidney transplant mistake not noticed until second patient was in operating room, sources say

New details reveal UH kidney mistake not noticed until second patient was in operating room
Posted at 5:42 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 08:57:43-04

CLEVELAND — Shockwaves have been sent from a major medical mistake at University Hospitals. 5 On Your Side Investigators broke the story about UH giving a kidney to the wrong patient, and because of that, another patient is back on the waiting list.

RELATED: UH transplant patient receives kidney intended for another, hospital official confirms

We have learned there were two kidney transplants happening at UH on July 2. The health system confirms a kidney meant for one patient was mistakenly transplanted into the wrong person. Fortunately, the person who received the wrong kidney seems to be accepting it and recovering, according to UH. Sources inside the hospital said the blood types were compatible.

Now we’re told the mistake wasn’t noticed until the second operation. UH won’t confirm how far along the surgery was when the transplant team realized they had the kidney intended for the first patient. UH said the second patient is back on the transplant list awaiting another organ.

Two “caregivers" — UH would not disclose if they are doctors, nurses, or other staff — are off the job pending an investigation. As of this morning, UH was still telling patients that transplants were still happening as normal.

RELATED: Despite mix-up at University Hospitals, experts assure organ donation still safe

This case calls to mind another Ohio kidney transplant problem back in 2013 in Toledo. Sarah Fudacz needed a kidney and her brother was the donor. However, after what should have been the transplant procedure, there were problems.

“I knew something had gone wrong as soon as I was being rolled out of surgery because I lifted up my shirt and there was no incision,” said Fudacz during a 2013 interview.

A nurse from the hospital mistakenly threw her brother’s kidney away.

“Somebody wasted part of my brother,” said Fudacz.

She then had to endure months of painful dialysis.

“I just cried because I couldn’t believe that I was back where I started when I should’ve been healthy,” said Fudacz at the time. “I should’ve been recovering.”

A long-time nurse was let go from the hospital and Fudacz got a settlement for $650,000.

As far as the UH mistake, it reported the problem to the United Network for Organ Sharing, the organization that oversees transplants in the U.S. We’ve also learned the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is aware of the issue, is reviewing it, and will take appropriate action after the review.

So far, UH hasn’t answered how this could have happened or basic questions about the procedures. We asked UH for a sit-down interview and so far, representatives have refused.

RELATED: 'Hard to imagine': Former UH kidney transplant patients react to recipient mix-up

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