New Jersey hospital gave wrong patient a kidney transplant

By Natalie Musumeci, New York Post, November 27, 2019.

A New Jersey patient was accidentally put at the top of a transplant list and received a kidney meant for someone else — who happened to have the same name.

Miraculously, the patient was also a match for the misdirected organ — and the intended recipient also wound up getting a kidney in the end.

The medical mix-up took place at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden — the only facility in southern New Jersey that performs kidney, liver and pancreas transplants.

Hospital officials said a successful transplant was performed on an unnamed, 51-year-old patient on Nov. 18.

The next day, however, they realized the organ had been intended for someone else but “unusually, the individual who should have received the organ has the same name and is of similar age,” the hospital said.

“A member of the clinical team discovered that this patient was inadvertently transplanted out of priority order based on the matching list of United Network for Organ Sharing.”

Fortunately, the person initially transplanted “was a match and is doing well.”

The identically named ­patient who should have received the first kidney underwent a successful transplant six days later “and is also doing well,” officials said.

Both patients were notified of the error, the hospital said.

“All safety measures were validated and additional checks were put into place before any subsequent transplant procedures occurred,” officials said.

Reginald Blaber, Virtua’s executive vice president and chief clinical officer, called the mistake “an unprecedented event in our respected, 40-plus-year transplant program.”

“We have a profound responsibility to people who literally place their lives in our hands. Mistakes of this magnitude are rare, and despite the unusual circumstances of similar patient identities, additional verification would have prevented this error,” Blaber said in a statement.

“As an organization committed to safety and process, we immediately instituted additional measures and educational reinforcement to help ensure this does not happen again.”