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New York hospital suspends live-donor transplant program after accidental death during surgery

A seriously ill New York man whose sister bled to death on an operating table trying to give him a lifesaving kidney demanded another organ from the hospital that botched the surgery.

Roberto Medina issued the desperate plea after the Montefiore Hospital suspended its prestigious lifesaving program while the state Health Department investigates the death of his sister Yolanda.

The 41-year-old mom of three daughters—aged 11, seven and two—died when her aorta was cut during the May 23 organ-harvesting surgery, which Medina said was being led by Dr. Javier Chapochnick Friedmann.

He said, "They should find me a kidney—that's the least they should do! It's just tough on me ... because she lost her life trying to save mine. And that's really what is killing me every day."

The desperate rush to try saving Yolanda ended any chance of using her kidneys due to a lack of blood flow, Medina said.

But late Wednesday night, he got a glimmer of fresh hope.

He said, "They said they found a kidney for me. And I have to go to the hospital to make sure that I am physically and mentally ready for this."

If he is cleared, Medina likely would undergo transplant surgery Thursday.

Yolanda was the first person in Montefiore's live-organ-donor program to die in more than four decades and 1,000 operations.

The family's attorney, Ben Rubinowitz, said, "If he doesn't get a kidney in a timely manner, he will remain on dialysis, and unfortunately, it might result in something far worse."

Medina began having problems two years ago and was placed on the donor wait list.

But after he suffered renal failure and was forced to begin dialysis in February, Yolanda said, "That's it," and offered herself as a donor, Medina said, adding, "She wanted to do it. I didn't ask her for it. Nobody from the family asked her to do it."

In the next three months, Yolanda shed 15 pounds to prepare for the operation.

On the night of May 22, their older sister, Edna, asked her, "Are you sure you want to do this?" and she said, "Yes, I'm sure," Medina recalled. "She said nobody could stop her."

Two hours after Yolanda left the pre-op, Medina's own surgeon, Dr. Liise Kayler, "came to let me know that the [transplant] surgery wasn't going to go through. She told me there was some complication with Yolanda. She even said they needed to resuscitate her, but that she was doing fine," Medina said.

Soon afterward, Yolanda's family was brought to a private room, and her family was informed of her death.

A Montefiore spokesman said, "This is a heartbreaking situation in so many ways, and our hearts are with the patient's family during this difficult time. Surgeons respect and honor the trust that is placed in them every day, but in rare situations like this, it is still readily apparent that medicine is far from perfect."

Click for more from the New York Post.

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