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Camden’s Virtua Lourdes Hospital apologizes for kidney transplant mix-up

Virtua Lourdes Hospital has added patient identification checks to ensure such a mistake doesn't happen again.

Exterior of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden, which became part of Virtua Health earlier this year.
Exterior of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden, which became part of Virtua Health earlier this year.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital mistakenly gave a kidney designated for a patient at the top of its transplant list to a 51-year-old patient with the same name who was lower on the list, the hospital has acknowledged.

The Camden hospital said the kidney, transplanted last week, was a match for the unintended recipient, who is doing well. The intended recipient, about the same age, underwent a successful transplant on Sunday and is also doing well.

Virtua Health executive vice president Reginald Blaber apologized for the mix-up, first reported Tuesday by CBS3.

“We have a profound responsibility to people who literally place their lives in our hands," Blaber said in a statement. "Mistakes of this magnitude are rare, and despite the unusual circumstances of similar patient identities, additional verification would have prevented this error. "

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Blaber called the event “unprecedented” in the hospital’s transplant program, which is more than 40 years old. The mistake came to light the day after the surgery when a clinician “discovered that this patient was inadvertently transplanted out of priority order.”

Virtua voluntarily reported the error to the organ transplant network, launched an investigation, apologized to the patient who should have received the kidney, and put additional checks into place.

“Recognizing the human component of medicine, we know that taking accountability and talking about issues honestly is how we learn and improve,” Blaber said.