Contaminated organs led to transplant patient death

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Two patients became seriously ill and one patient died after receiving organs that had been contaminated with a fungal infection after the surgeon failed to disclose that when he was removing the donor’s organs, he cut the stomach, resulting in its contents spilling onto the other organs.

One patient died of an aneurysm after the liver he received was infected with Candida albicans, whilst another became seriously ill after receiving an infected kidney. The patient was put into a coma and had to spend a year on dialysis, as well as undergoing 16 blood transfusions.

The spill of stomach content was not recorded when it happened in 2015 and therefore the risk of infection was unknown. When the patients started deteriorating, surgeons at Cardiff & Vale University Health Board informed the Human Tissue Authority about the worsening condition of those who had undergone organ transplants.

The surgeon said that despite nothing major happening during the surgery, he did notice a “small nick” which saw stomach content leak out.

Although the likelihood of contamination from the cut was low, even if all involved had been aware of the leakage, it was the surgeon’s duty to report such events so that the correct measures could have been taken immediately.

Amanda Cavanagh, a medical negligence specialist at Ashtons Legal, says: “This is a tragic situation for both the patients and their families. Whatever the reason for the infection, had the duty of candour been followed by the surgeon at the time of the incident, the death could have been avoided and the two other recipients may have not suffered such serious complications.”

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