Posted on Nov 26, 2013

Many people are aware of how difficult it is to find a kidney donor. So when one woman found out that she could donate her kidney to her husband she was ecstatic. The husband was thrilled as well; the couple was under the impression that his life would be extended. But things did not go as smoothly as they had hoped.

Newsday reports on a botched kidney transplant surgery.

A man was in dire need of a kidney transplant and his wife decided to give him one of hers; the surgery was to take place at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. But, according to the patient, things went wrong due to fluild leaking from the ceiling and contaminating the donated kidney.

The couple told Newsday, “An unidentified fluid dripped from the operating room ceiling into the receptacle containing her freshly harvested kidney, an event that set off a flurry of recovery efforts. It is a charge vigorously denied by the hospital but corroborated by a surgeon's discharge report.” This fluid ruined what was supposed to be a spectacular development in the health of this man.

“The hospital never reported a leak or drip to state health authorities. Public health law requires reports of therapeutic misadventures to be on file with the state Health Department. North Shore insists nothing happened. But a leak did occur, according to the surgeon's report, over the so-called "back table," a prep space in transplant operations, and the organ was exposed in the basin where the fluid dripped,” according to Newsday. The couple is using the surgeon’s report as evidence that the leak was clear and visible.

Newsday reports, “The Johnsons contend the fluid contaminated the kidney, and efforts to rescue it delayed the transplant. North Shore was negligent, the Johnsons are arguing in a lawsuit filed in January, because the second-floor operating room was faulty. The hospital should foot the cost of all medical bills, they contend, and address their pain, suffering and lost wages. Above all, they want to learn what type of contaminant could so easily damage an organ deemed robust by multiple physicians.” Sadly the husband now lays hospitalized with kidney failure and the wife is left with only one functioning kidney.


Here we have a situation where the patients were asleep, under anesthesia. They had no control over what was happening in the operating room. The hospital staff and the physicians were in full control over the surgery.

Here's the scenario according to the Newsday article. Husband's kidneys are failing. Wife is a perfect match and decides to donate a kidney to her husband. Good kidney is removed from wife during surgery and placed on a table in the operating room.

Somehow, an unknown fluid drips from the operating room light directly into the bowl containing the good working kidney. Hospital staff goes to extended efforts to clean and wash kidney, in light of this fluid dripping on it.

By the time doctors attempt to transplant the 'good' kidney into the husband, the kidney is no longer functioning as it was when it was removed from the wife.

Most interesting is that there is a written operative report from the surgeon describing the fluid that dripped into the bowl containing the kidney. The hospital inexplicably contradicts the surgeon and claims there was no such event.

Should this proceed to trial, a jury will have to determine who is more likely right than wrong.

Just from the info you have read in this summary, what do you think happened?

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Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer