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Published: 8/28/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

3rd suspended in kidney error

Role UTMC official played in transplant not disclosed

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC), former Medical College of Ohio. University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC), former Medical College of Ohio.
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A third University of Toledo Medical Center employee has been suspended with pay for his involvement in a surgery this month that went awry when a viable kidney was thrown away into a pool of other medical waste instead of being transplanted into the donor's sister.

Edwin Hall, administrator of surgical services, was notified Monday that he would be on "paid administrative leave" from his $164,999-a-year job. Hospital officials declined to elaborate on what role he played in the Aug. 10 surgery.

Mr. Hall of Troy, Mich., could not be reached for comment.

Neither the woman needing the kidney nor her brother, who had intended to donate his kidney, has been identified by the hospital. Tobin Klinger, UTMC spokesman, said the family has asked for "extreme privacy" and the hospital will respect that request.

Two nurses involved in the surgery, Melanie Lemay, a full-time nurse, and Judith Moore, a part-time nurse, have been suspended with pay pending the results of a multi-agency investigation. Dr. Michael Rees, the UTMC transplant surgeon who removed the kidney before it was ruined, has not faced any discipline, said Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, UTMC president.

The hospital has also refused to say which nurse handled the kidney before it was discarded or why a second nurse was suspended.

The UTMC live kidney donation program was voluntarily suspended after the incident.

Dr. Jacobs said he had no doubt the program would be restarted after reviews by the Ohio Department of Health, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the United Network for Organ Sharing, an agency that oversees the nation's transplant programs.

UTMC also is paying Dr. Marlon Levy, surgical director, transplantation, at Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth, $2,500 to "review the policies, procedures, and practices of UTMC's living related donor program" and also review management of patients undergoing living related transplants. According to his contract with the medical center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital, Dr. Levy is to write a detailed report of his findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth has liver, kidney, pancreas, and islet cell transplant programs.

Last week, Dr. Jacobs publicly apologized for the mistake. He said the program would eventually be reinstated after a deep look at the accident. "I share the sentiment expressed by others that this causes great anguish," Dr. Jacobs told The Blade. "I am deeply apologetic. I am anguished. When mistakes are made, the best thing is to acknowledge them and say I am deeply sorry about this."

The kidney transplant program at UTMC has operated for 40 years. It is the only organ transplant routinely performed at the hospital.

Kidneys are the most commonly transplanted organs. There were 16,816 kidney transplants in the United States in 2011 from live donors and from people who consented to organ donation through state registries should they die from an illness or accident.

Dr. Randall Sung, an associate professor in the section of transplantation surgery at the University of Michigan, who is not involved in the UTMC investigation, last week said the two surgeries -- to harvest a kidney, then to transplant it -- typically take two to three hours each.

After removal, a kidney is flushed of the donor's blood and is packed in ice in a sterile plastic bag, which is placed in another container before being moved to the nearby or adjacent operating room with the waiting recipient, Dr. Sung said. He said surgeons usually want to implant a kidney within an hour of removing it.

UTMC has declined to say how long it took to recover the discarded kidney. Once it was found, "efforts were made to restore the kidney to a usable state, however the physician, in consultation with the family, decided to not take the risk knowing there was a good chance for another highly compatible donor," said Dr. Jeffrey Gold, chancellor and vice president for biosciences and health affairs at UTMC.

Doctors tried unsuccessfully for at least two hours to "resuscitate" the organ to make it usable, he said.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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