"This is an unprecedented event in our respected 40-plus-year transplant program," a spokesperson from the Camden, New Jersey hospital said in a statement

By Benjamin VanHoose
November 27, 2019 03:03 PM
NJ hospital admits to giving kidney transplant to wrong person - Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in New Jersey
Credit: Google Maps

Due to a medical mix-up, a kidney transplant meant for one patient mistakenly went to another.

A day after the organ was successfully transplanted at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden, New Jersey, on Nov. 18, an employee on the clinical team discovered the 51-year-old patient received the kidney “out of priority order,” the hospital told PEOPLE in a statement.

Both patients, coincidentally, had the same names and were of similar ages, leading to the administrative error in identifying the correct patient next in order on the transplant list.

The person supposed to be given the organ was higher on the priority list and, fortunately, was able to receive a kidney transplant on Sunday. Both patients are said to be recovering well, according to the hospital.

“While the unusualness of having two patients with the identical name so close together on the transplant list contributed to the error, it is our responsibility to make sure we contact and move forward with the right patient,” said the hospital in the statement, outlining new measures it implemented in order to prevent it happening again.

Human Organ Transplantation on ambulance
Organ transplant
| Credit: Getty

“We have a profound responsibility to people who literally place their lives in our hands,” Reginald Blaber, executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Virtua Health, said. “Mistakes of this magnitude are rare, and despite the unusual circumstances of similar patient identities, additional verification would have prevented this error.”

The Lourdes Regional Organ Transplantation Center offers transplantations of the kidney, liver and pancreas with its “first-rate” team of professionals, according to its official webpage.

“This is an unprecedented event in our respected 40-plus-year transplant program,” Blaber said in a statement. “As an organization committed to safety and process, we immediately instituted additional measures and educational reinforcement to help ensure this does not happen again.”

Out of transparency, the hospital — which has conducted kidney transplants since 1974, according to its website — reported the failing to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and to the New Jersey Department of Health, the hospital said.

“As an organization with a focus on being here for good, we remain steadfast in doing the right thing and caring for the affected patients and their families,” Blaber said. “… Recognizing the human component of medicine, we know that taking accountability and talking about issues openly and honestly is how we learn and improve.”