Citizens in the state of Illinois who are thinking about being kidney donors to friends or family members may want to take notice of the following story.
A rise in medical malpractice suits have been filed after kidney donor deaths have been found to be linked with clips used during surgery. The problem came to light after a 41-year-old woman donated a kidney to her brother who was suffering from a deadly disease. Roughly 30 minutes after the laparoscopic procedure was complete, the woman had significant bleeding in her abdomen. She died soon after the problem was discovered, leaving behind four children.
The surgery has been considered to be a safe undertaking for most people. In fact, more than 6,000 people underwent kidney donor surgery. No deaths resulted within 30 days of the procedure.
However, it was discovered that the cause of death of the woman was linked to surgical clips used in many surgeries to help close the renal artery that becomes severed during kidney surgeries. The clips are not useful during laparoscopic surgeries, because they can slip off the artery and cause serious health complications.
In the woman's case, doctors found the clips mixed with the blood in her abdomen. Four other cases of donors have ended the same way, in countries including the United States. More have sustained injuries from the failed clips, which have insufficient warnings placed upon them. When the product was released, hospitals received a letter stating the clips were not to be used in kidney procedures. However, many hospitals did not receive the warning or were not using the products at the time. Therefore, the warnings were ignored or forgotten over time.
Although some articles have been published, presentations have been made and letters of warning have been sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, they have not been enough to provide sufficient warning to donors. One doctor who attempted at bringing concerns to light said she was heartbroken after hearing of the woman's death, because it proved her actions have not been effective.
Source: CNN, "Kidney-donor deaths linked to surgical clips raise issues of alerts, warnings," John Bonifield and Elizabeth Cohen, June 21, 2012