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Update on woman whose kidney was thrown away by nurse

Regular readers of our Joplin law blog will undoubtedly recall an article
we published a little more than a year ago, telling the story of a woman
whose donated kidney was thrown away. Her brother had donated the organ
to help his then-24-year-old sister, but before it could be transplanted,
a nurse at the hospital threw it away.

Back when we published the story in August of 2013, the hospital denied
that “the mistake rises to the level of
medical negligence.” In the 13 months since, things have changed.

First, we want to make clear that the woman survived the ordeal, though
she had to undergo dialysis and four additional surgeries as a result
of the medical error.

Now a reminder of what happened that day: the Toledo, Ohio, woman’s
17-year-old brother had undergone surgery to have a kidney removed for
donation to his older sister. She had undergone anesthesia and was ready
to have the organ transplanted when it was discovered that a nurse had
accidently tossed the kidney.

We can only imagine the emotional distress of the woman in end-state renal
condition learning of the disaster, as well as the distress caused to
her brother who had bravely undergone painful surgery, only to have his
kidney wasted.

Now for a bit of good news: the woman, her brother, and their parents announced
earlier this year that they had agreed to a financial settlement with
the hospital. The siblings each received $250,000 and the parents together
received $150,000. The total of $650,000 will undoubtedly strike many
as shockingly low for a medical error of this magnitude.

The family’s attorney said the settlement was limited by a state-imposed
rule protecting public facilities. He said the family that had undergone
such a physical and emotional ordeal was “disappointed (that)the state imposes those types of limitations in these types of cases.”

As we here in Missouri know, caps on compensation in cases of medical negligence
only hurt those who have been harmed by doctors, nurses and hospitals
who were careless, neglectful or inattentive in providing care.

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