When a loved one is suffering, family members and friends may do anything they can to help alleviate the pain. In extreme and heroic cases, a loved one actually donates one of his or her own organs to save someone. In too many cases of kidney donations, however, these brave donors are making the ultimate sacrifice. Due to medical negligence, many have died after donation.
The mistake has been made at least a dozen other times. Doctors have removed a kidney, sewed the person back up and everything seems fine. Shortly after the surgery, however, patients are suffering from serious internal bleeding. The reason for the bleeding has been linked to a small surgical clip. Approved and safe for other surgeries, the device has been found ineffective in renal surgeries.
However, doctors continue using the clips to close a person's artery after the kidney has been removed. The clips slip off and blood can pool in the patient's abdomen. In 2010, this very thing happened to a woman who donated a kidney to her brother. She died as a result of the mistake.
The makers of the device reportedly sent out letters to hospitals in 2006 explaining that the clips should not be used on kidney donors. Only about half of the hospitals who should have seen the letters acknowledged that they ever received one, though. And in this recent case, the hospital claims they saw the letter but dismissed it because they were not using the clips at that time. By the time they started using them, they had long since forgotten the warnings.
Sadly, many people have had to suffer because of a misused medical device. For patients who have experienced this kind of error, financial compensation may be an option. While it cannot undo a medical mistake, a legal claim may prevent similar negligence from being repeated.
Source: CNN, "Kidney-donor deaths linked to surgical clips raise issues of alerts, warnings," John Bonifield and Elizabeth Cohen, June 21, 2012