TOLEDO, Ohio – A nurse accidentally disposed of a kidney from a living donor this month at an Ohio hospital, and doctors tried unsuccessfully for at least two hours to resuscitate the organ in what medical experts describe as a rare accident, health officials said.
"Human error rendered the kidney unusable," University of Toledo Medical Center spokesman Toby Klinger said Saturday, but he declined to give more details, citing the hospital's investigation into what happened and its respect for the privacy of the patients involved.
But one of the doctors involved told Dr. David Grossman, a Toledo-Lucas County health commissioner, that a nurse disposed of the kidney improperly. Two nurses have been placed on paid administrative leave while the hospital reviews what happened, Klinger said.
Grossman told the Blade newspaper in Toledo that a man had donated the kidney to his older sister. Both the donor and the intended recipient have been released from the hospital, Klinger said.
The hospital has voluntarily suspended the live kidney donor program while they review what happened and determine how to prevent errors in the future, according to Dr. Jeffrey Gold, the medical center's chancellor and vice president for biosciences and health affairs.
He said that doctors tried to save the kidney, but "the physician in consultation with the family decided to not take the risk knowing there was a good chance for another highly compatible donor."
Grossman's office is not involved in the investigation or connected to the medical center, Klinger said. Grossman could not be reached for comment Saturday. The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department was closed, and Grossman's home telephone number was not available.
This kind of accident is unheard of in organ transplant centers and it was a good decision not to use the kidney, Dr. William Harmon, director of kidney transplantation at Boston Children's Hospital, told the Blade.
"This is unfortunately what medicine is like -- it is not perfect, and there have been far worse cases where the donor has died," Harmon said.
Officials at the United Network for Organ Sharing, an agency that oversees the nation's transplant programs, could not be reached for comment Saturday.
There were 16,816 kidney transplants nationwide last year from live donors and from those who consented to organ donation through state registries should they die from an illness or accident, the newspaper reported.
Last year, 136 people in Ohio died waiting for a kidney, and 4,711 people died nationally waiting for a kidney, the newspaper reported.