It was likely an emotional moment when Paul Fudacz told his family that he would donate his kidney to his older sister, Sarah, in an effort to save the then 24-year-old’s life. But on the day of the transplant surgery that would have bonded the siblings in a whole new way, Paul’s kidney was mistakenly thrown in the trash by a nurse at University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC). Now, even though the hospital admits that a nurse threw away Paul’s kidney, officials deny being medically negligent.
According to the Daily News, the debacle happened when two nurses — Melanie Lemay and Judith Moore — alternated shifts for a lunch break. When Moore returned from lunch to assist with the transplant surgery, Lemay did not properly inform her about what stage the surgery was in. Moore then “unknowingly” discarded the kidney along with the medical waste. When she realized what happened, staff hurried to recover the kidney, but it was unusable.
The hospital admitted to the mistake, issuing an apology from Dr. Jeffery Gold, University of Toledo chancellor and dean of the College of Medicine. “We cannot fathom the disappointment that those impacted have experienced over the course of the last week. The University cannot begin to express the sorrow that we feel that this unfortunate incident occurred. We apologize sincerely," the statement read.
But despite apologizing for and admitting to the mistake, the hospital is still asking the state to throw out a lawsuit filed by the family. The hospital alleges that it took the appropriate amount of medical care in dealing with the Fudacz family, in lieu of the mistake.
"They must think that it is within standard care to throw a kidney away," Fudacz family lawyer James E. Arnold told ABC News. "It would be more decent to admit substandard care, and the family shouldn't have to be going through litigation to prove it. It's obvious to everyone but the university — in all fairness."
Sarah did receive a kidney in November of last year, but it is “not as good” as the one her brother, who was a perfect match, could have given her.
“Paul Jr.’s kidney was considered a ‘perfect match’ for Sarah. Sarah seeks damages she has suffered and will continue to suffer due to the loss of Paul Jr.’s perfect kidney. Paul Jr. seeks damages he has suffered and will continue to suffer for having to undergo a painful and risky surgery, and for having to live the rest of his life with only one kidney, all in vain,” the suit reads.
Dr. Michael Rees, who performed the surgery, still works at the hospital where the mix-up happened. Nurse Lemay was fired for her part in the incident. She is also suing the hospital alleging wrongful discharge, defamation, slander, and libel. Nurse Moore resigned a month after the incident.