Ohio hospital transplants kidney to wrong patient; 2 employees on leave pending investigation
07/16/2021 // Nolan Barton // Views

An Ohio hospital transplanted a kidney into the wrong person, leaving the intended recipient waiting for a replacement. Officials at University Hospitals (UH) in Cleveland on Monday, July 12, apologized for the mistake and said two employees had been placed on administrative leave pending the results of investigation.

"We have offered our sincerest apologies to these patients and their families," George Stamatis, spokesperson for UH, said in a statement. "We recognize they entrusted us with their care. The situation is entirely inconsistent with our commitment to helping patients return to health and live life to the fullest."

Investigations into the incident are ongoing

Fortunately, the patient erroneously given the kidney was compatible with the donated organ and expected to recover. Investigations into the incident from both "outside agencies" and "internal quality and compliance experts" are ongoing, according to UH officials.

"UH will take the actions necessary to prevent such a mistake from ever happening again," University Hospitals said. (Related: Man dies from rabies after receiving infected transplant kidney.)

The hospital has notified the United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the national transplant system. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also aware of the issue and will take appropriate action after reviewing the case.

The mixed-up surgery took place July 2. There were two kidney transplants scheduled at UH that day.

A source told News 5 Cleveland that the mistake wasn't noticed until the second operation. UH won't confirm how far along the surgery was when the transplant team realized they had the kidney intended for the first patient. UH said the second patient is back on the transplant list awaiting another organ.


The case brought back memories of another Ohio kidney transplant problem in 2013.

Sarah Fudacz needed a kidney and her brother was the donor. However, a nurse from the hospital mistakenly threw her brother's kidney away.

"I knew something had gone wrong as soon as I was being rolled out of surgery because I lifted up my shirt and there was no incision," said Fudacz during a 2013 interview. "Somebody wasted part of my brother."

Fudacz then had to endure months of painful dialysis. "I just cried because I couldn't believe that I was back where I started when I should've been healthy. I should've been recovering," Fudacz said at the time.

The nurse who made the mistake was let go from the hospital and Fudacz got a settlement for $650,000.

Experts still insist organ transplants are safe despite errors

Despite the reported human errors, experts are still insisting that organ transplants are safe. UH is still telling patients that transplants are happening as normal. (Related: Eugenics: Doctor denies young girl kidney transplant because she is considered mentally retarded.)

Heather Mekesa, chief operating officer of Lifebanc, Northeast Ohio's only nonprofit organ and tissue recovery organization, said the mix-up that happened at UH is extremely rare. "About 99.9 percent of the time, this doesn't happen and organ donation does truly save lives," Mekesa said.

Since 1999, UH has performed more than 2,700 kidney transplants, including 95 so far this year and 194 in 2020. Mekesa said she has never heard of a mix-up with recipients until now. She noted that organ donation is such an important thing in Ohio and the country.

More than 110,000 Americans are on a transplant list, including 3,000 Ohioans, and one person is added to the list every 10 minutes. The biggest need is kidney transplants.

"There's almost twenty five hundred people here in Northeast Ohio waiting on that kidney transplant list," Mekesa said. "And the success rate is wonderful. But the unfortunate circumstance is there's not enough donors out there to really get that list down. And that's so important."

Mekesa is hoping that the recent and rare transplant mix-up doesn't hurt the organ donation registry.

"This incredibly rare, uncommon mix up shouldn't deter anybody from signing up on that donor registry and giving someone a second chance if possible," Mekesa said.

Follow BadDoctors.news for more news and information related to erring doctors.

Sources include:


News5Cleveland.com 1

News5Cleveland.com 2

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