NHS medical negligence leads to infected kidney transplants


Compensation has been agreed after a surgical mistake in which 2 patients received transplants of cancerous kidneys.

Robert Law and Gillian Smart received the kidneys, which were infected with a rare and aggressive cancer, at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

The hospital did not know the donated organs' provenance and the kidneys were not thoroughly checked: a potentially fatal error which forced the patients to endure 6 cycles of chemotherapy.

The mistake was made in November 2010 by a member of staff employed by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) at a donor hospital.

The NHS said that the transplant team at the Royal Liverpool was not informed that the kidneys contained B-cell lymphoma. The service has admitted medical negligence and the patients will receive compensation packages.

NHSBT said partial blame for the medical negligence lay in "human error" by a specialist nurse whose training was incomplete. Lynda Hamlyn of NHSBT offered "sincere and unreserved apologies" to Mr Law and Mrs Smart, who learned of the error some days after their operations.

Mrs Smart, 47, said she was "devastated. The result has been psychologically and physically draining."

Mr Law, 60, launched a legal action in March 2011. Calling for a report to be published to ensure the error never happens again, the father of 4 said: "Over the last 15 months I have suffered in many ways, physically and mentally, including weight gain, muscle wastage and depression."

He added that throwing light on how the mistake was allowed to happen would enable UK medical professionals to learn from the errors and ensure better care in the future.

"I also feel strongly that the NHS trusts involved should publish a comprehensive report stating what measures have been taken to minimise the risk of a recurrence."

Ironically, both patients had been preparing for live kidney transplants from their respective sisters but wanted to spare their healthy relatives the trauma of surgery.

Mr Law and Mrs Smart have been advised there was no sign of cancer after their chemotherapy. However, they will undergo further scans for confirmation.

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