PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One of the region’s largest hospitals is investigating a kidney transplant mix-up. Last Monday, a patient underwent a successful kidney transplant but the next day a staff member noticed it was the wrong recipient.
Officials say the organ recipient was, in fact, in need of a kidney. Another person, who was actually higher on the organ donor list, was supposed to get it.
For those waiting to get on a transplant list or who are on it, every day is a race against time.
Eyewitness News spoke with one man who is waiting for a kidney and a pancreas. He says each day is a struggle, not knowing if a match will be found, and the news of this mix-up makes the wait even harder.
“My kidneys failed from zero to Stage 3 in a matter of months,” Jimmy Apostolopoulos said.
In 2016, Apostolopoulos found out he had Stage 3 kidney disease.
“There are a lot of peaks and valleys as a person who has this disease,” he said. “It’s taxing on your mind every day.”
Three years later, the 52-year-old is still waiting to get on a donor list.
“I’m just one step away,” he said.
And that’s why Apostolopoulos says he’s so bothered learning an area hospital performed surgery on the wrong patient.
“It makes you wonder, what is going on?” he said.
On Tuesday, Nov. 29, officials at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden discovered they performed a successful kidney transplant on the wrong patient the day prior.
Surgeons operated on a 51-year-old who has the same name and similar age to the person with higher priority.
“That’s why you do all those blood works, all that testing. So they can make sure it’s perfect and it doesn’t fail in your body. You do your part and we’ll do our part. Obviously, they didn’t do their part at all,” Apostolopoulos said.
In a statement, Virtua Health Chief Clinical Officer Reginald Blaber said, “This is an unprecedented event in our respected 40-plus-year transplant program. As an organization committed to safety and process, we immediately instituted additional measures and educational reinforcement to help ensure this does not happen again.”
While Virtua won’t say who on the staff is to blame, they did apologize to the person who was supposed to receive the kidney and they were actually able to give them a transplant in less than a week.
Virtua did not say what corrective actions they’re taking, but patient advocates say making sure the right person is undergoing surgery is basic medical practice.