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Published: Thursday, 9/13/2012

UT President gives state-of-university speech


The president of the University of Toledo acknowledged during his annual state-of-the-university speech today a recent botched kidney transplant at the university’s Medical Center, expressing regret for the human error but praising the university’s response.

The university’s kidney transplant program was voluntarily suspended last month after an Aug. 10 incident that led to a viable kidney going into the trash instead of being transferred into the donor’s sister. The kidney transplant surgeon at the center of an investigation into a botched surgery has temporarily lost his director title, and three staff members were suspended — one nurse ultimately resigned.

Dr. Lloyd Jacobs said during his speech that the error was regrettable, but that the reaction to such errors was “of extreme importance.” He said the university notified oversight agencies immediately after the surgery, analyzed what went wrong, and tightened safeguards. He thanked staff Thursday for how they reacted.

“I join you in being sorry for the isolated incident,” Dr. Jacobs said, “but want you to know that I trust you and appreciate you.”

Dr. Jacobs’ speech centered on how he saw the university as one that is rising, despite concerns that American higher education institutions are in the midst of an education bubble that might soon burst because of cost pressures on students. Though enrollment fell this year, Dr. Jacobs said the university is poised for advancement because of new international partnerships, innovation in how education is delivered, and the university’s continued collaboration with emerging industries such as solar power.

Mayor Mike Bell, who attended the speech, said he liked Dr. Jacob’s focus on international engagement, as it paralleled similar efforts by his administration. The university plans to build strong relationships with institutions in India, Lebanon, and China.

“We both see the value in trying to increase our international partnerships,” Mayor Bell said.

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