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Healthy kidney tossed in botched transplant case

A recent case of medical malpractice shows the unfortunate roadblocks that are placed in front of victims of poor medical care. We are talking about medical malpractice caps, which limit the amount of money a plaintiff can earn in their lawsuit. The case isn't from New Mexico, which is important because the caps and limits change from state to state. Still, the story raises some very important points.

In 2012, a 24-year-old woman was preparing for a kidney transplant. Her younger brother graciously volunteered to give up one of his kidneys so that she could have the procedure, and it was even discovered that they were a perfect match. So the younger brother went under the knife to have his kidney removed. The operation was a success.

Just one problem: a nurse threw away the perfectly healthy kidney by mistake.

As a result of the botched surgery, the 24-year-old woman had to wait in order to get another kidney -- which she thankfully did. But there are many complications now. She received a kidney that was not a perfect match, and thus it will not last as long as the kidney her brother offered. In addition, when she needs another new kidney, it will take a greater amount of time to obtain it because of the waiting list. The woman also had to go through many surgeries and dialysis treatments in order to help her in the months between the botched kidney transplant and the proper one.

The woman, her younger brother and their family sued for medical malpractice and they reached a $650,000 settlement with the public medical facility they attended to have the procedure done. In the state where the surgery was performed, public facilities have cap protections which limit their financial liability when medical mistakes occur. If this had happened in a private facility, the caps would have been higher, and the affected patients and loved ones of those patients could have earned more -- which, given the circumstances, likely would have been justified.

Source: Norwalk Reflector, "Family gets $650,000 in botched kidney case," June 1, 2014

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