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Published: Wednesday, 7/31/2013

Family of botched kidney transplant in 2012 sues UTMC

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Toledo woman who was supposed to receive her brother's kidney during a transplant surgery last year at the University of Toledo Medical Center, only to learn that the organ had been discarded, has sued the hospital.

Sarah A. Fudacz, who was 24 at the time of the botched August, 2012 surgery, was supposed to have been given a kidney from her younger brother, Paul Fudacz, Jr., but the kidney was inadvertently thrown away during the surgery.

Click here to read the complaint.

Live-donor kidney transplants were suspended voluntarily at UTMC after the incident occurred. A bevy of policy and procedure reviews at the medical center and site visits by oversight bodies followed the incident.

“Paul Jr.’s kidney was considered a “perfect match” for Sarah. Sarah seeks damages she has suffered and will continue to suffer due to the loss of Paul Jr.’s perfect kidney. Paul Jr. seeks damages he has suffered and will continue to suffer for having to undergo a painful and risky surgery, and for having to live the rest of his life with only one kidney, all in vain,” stated the lawsuit filed in the Court of Claims in Columbus.

The lawsuit, filed on Monday, lists the brother and sister; their parents, Paul Fudacz, Sr. and Ellen Fudacz; Christopher, John, and Joseph, brothers of Sarah and Paul, Jr., and Marie Fudacz, their sister.

“At approximately 1 p.m., while Paul Jr. was in the process of being 'closed' by [Dr. Michael A. Rees], Judith K. Moore, R.N., a nurse employed by the UTMC, returned to Paul Jr.’s operating room after taking a lunch break,” the lawsuit states. “Nurse Moore removed the contents of the slush machine (which still included Paul Jr.’s kidney), walked down the hall to a utility room and flushed the contents (including Paul Jr.’s kidney) down a disposal “hopper” used for the disposal of medical waste.”

The suit said the kidney was later recovered and deemed unusable because it was intermingled with other infected and/or non-sterile medical waste.

“Horrified at what had happened to their children, Paul Sr. and Ellen immediately went to see Sarah in recovery, who was awake but in disbelief and angry. Sarah told her parents how, when she first woke up and saw that she did not have an incision from a transplant surgery, she immediately thought Paul had died in surgery and that this prevented the transplant from happening,” the suit states.

On November 13, 2012, the younger Ms. Fudacz received a replacement kidney transplant during a surgery in Colorado.

The suit said the plaintiffs individually demand judgment against UTMC in excess of $25,000, plus interest, the costs of the suit, and any other relief the court deems appropriate.

A spokesman for UTMC, the former Medical College of Ohio, said the hospital is saddened by the situation and is unable to discuss the health of patients or the pending litigation.

"The University of Toledo Medical Center has created a unique environment of safety in our transplant and other programs that is second to none," the spokesman said in a statement. "Other hospitals and transplantation programs across the region and the country continue to learn from our experiences to improve patient safety and provide the highest levels of care."

"Out of this difficult situation health care quality and patient safety has been dramatically transformed."

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



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