According to officials, a 51-year-old patient was given a new kidney on November 18 at the Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden, New Jersey. However, the kidney was meant to go to another patient with the same name and of a similar age to the individual who ultimately became kidney recipient.
Upon realizing its mistake one day after the transplant, the hospital reported the incident to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, prompting an investigation by state health officials. Both patients were also informed of the mix-up as soon as the hospital became aware of its misstep.
The patient who erroneously received the transplant “was a match and is doing well,” according to the hospital, which noted that the patient who was supposed to receive the transplant managed to undergo a successful kidney transplant on November 24. The patient has been reported as “also doing well.”
“[The hospital has a] profound responsibility to people who literally place their lives in our hands,” Reginald Blaber, Virtua’s executive vice president and chief clinical officer, said in a statement.“Mistakes of this magnitude are rare, and despite the unusual circumstances of similar patient identities, additional verification would have prevented this error.”
Blaber further stressed that the mistake was “an unprecedented event in our respected 40-plus-year transplant program,” also noting that “measures and education reinforcement” were instituted after the incident in an effort to ensure that the incident does not occur again.
“Recognizing the human component of medicine, we know that taking accountability and talking about issues openly and honestly is how we learn and improve,” Blaber explained.
According to the hospital’s website, Virtua has been performing kidney transplants since 1974 and it was the first hospital in New Jersey to perform a kidney-pancreas transplant, which is a procedure in which both a kidney and pancreas are transplanted into a patient at the same time. The hospital also performs liver transplants.