Lifestyle & Belief

Kidney transplant thrown in trash by mistake


A man rests in his hospital room at the University of Chicago after kidney, liver and lung transplants.


Tim Boyle

A live donor was generous enough to give away his kidney. Little did he know that it would end up at the bottom of a trash can. That happened at the University of Toledo Medical Center, after the hospital accidentally threw a kidney transplant away, ABC News reported. Upon discovering the error, doctors tried to revive the kidney, but the organ had been damaged too much. The hospital's transplant program has now been suspended. 

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The kidney was supposed to go to the donor's sister, the Associated Press reported

ABC News and other outlets have blamed a nurse for discarding the kidney. But another nurse told The Toledo Blade that the surgeon should have been held responsible. "Where in the recovery, flushing, and prep of a kidney, and transport to the other [operating] room is a nurse involved? Whoever was the primary surgeon should be held accountable," Donna Luebke, a registered nurse and transplant patient advocate, told the Blade. Two nurses, Melanie Lemay and Judith Moore, have been suspended, but the surgeon Dr. Michael Rees has not faced any discipline. "Says a lot about the surgeon that he let the nurses take the fall," Luebke added.

Further complicating the controversy is a 2009 lawsuit the Toledo Blade discovered involving both the surgeon and one of the nurses. The lawsuit, filed by surgical technician Kelly Haas, alleges that Dr. Rees kicked her in the back during surgery. Dr. Rees was apparently angry because Haas was leaving the operating room so nurse Melanie Lemay could take her place for the day, but Dr. Rees didn't think Lemay was qualified to work on the surgery, according to the Blade.