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An investigation into the death of a transplant recipient revealed surgical errors were made in the retrieval of organs from the donor patient.
A surgeon at Oxford University NHS Foundation Trust was found to have cut into the stomach of the donor patient during the retrieval of organs. The contents of the stomach were spilt over some of the donor organs which subsequently became infected with the fungal infection Candida albicans. The surgeon did not tell anyone about this incident, despite protocol demanding a report should be made, and the organs were transplanted into three patients.
The recipient of the liver subsequently died due to an aneurism caused by an infection from the donated liver.
The incident took place in 2015 but only became known when the recipient of the donor kidney attended hospital, becoming seriously ill due to infection of the donor organ.
The 25-year-old recipient patient had the kidney removed and was placed in an induced coma, as well receiving 16 blood transfusions. Furthermore, the patient spent 12 months on dialysis despite having not needed it before the transplant.
A report into the incident by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) found the spill was not documented at the time, and the surgeon had “no recollection of anything of note” during the retrieval process.
The trust concerned admitted a breach in their duty of care due to the incident going unreported by the surgeon.
Chief Medical Officer at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Prof Meghana Pandit, said: “This is a very unusual circumstance and we are keen to ensure that we do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again in future.”
Thankfully, errors during surgery are rare, but as illustrated above, when they do occur can leave patients in a life-threatening condition. In some cases, patients may be left with permanent injury and as such could be entitled to make a surgical error claim.
Blackwater Law are specialists in medical negligence claims and offer free initial advice on whether your experience, or that of a loved one, could mean you could pursue a claim for compensation.