The alarming story of 2 patients who were given donor Kidneys contaminated by an aggressive form of Cancer highlights the role of human error in healthcare. 2 patients were given transplants in November 2010 and then told that the Kidneys had been donated by a woman thought to have a form of Lymphoma.
The Royal Liverpool University Hospital has admitted a breakdown in communications in failing to communicate to the transplant team the possibility that the donor had Lymphoma. NHS Blood and Transplant, which oversees transplants, blames a specialist nurse who had not completed her training. This is a most unusual set of events and it seems quite extraordinary that the adequate details of the donor’s history were not given to the treating doctors.
Most of the errors involving negligent management of Cancer in the NHS concern a failure to diagnose or treat the condition. Many arise from misinterpreting investigation results such as x-rays, scans and biopsies. Others occur from delays or failures to refer patients to specialists. This is the first case I have come across where a patient may have been given Cancer through organ transplant. Hopefully it will not happen again.
In the meantime 2 patients have been put through an enormous amount of anxiety and had to undergo unpleasant treatment which will have had a detrimental effect on their general health. They should recover awards of compensation and they deserve them.