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Safety procedures to protect live organ donors proposed

Due to deaths of live donors, the organ transplant community has been forced to reevaluate its procedures. One liver donor died at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York in 2002. This resulted in orders for new regulations concerning patient safety by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Whatever rules were implemented has not prevented other deaths from occurring, however. On May 24, 2010, a 56-year-old man died as the result of a procedure to donate a portion of his liver. In August 2010, another individual died four days after also donating a part of his liver.

The wife of the 56-year-old deceased man has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit. This may have come about in part due to the United Network for Organ Sharing not adopting rules to protect donors for three prior years that satisfied federal officials.

Some policies being considered would provide donors with independent advocates. There was also talk of directives being required concerning the disclosure of specific medical information to donors about the recipients.

A new set of proposed rules to protect donors will be released. One person that helped create the rules was the surgeon who removed 60 percent of the liver of the 56-year-old donor who had died. This doctor was of the opinion that "the potential price" that is paid when problems arise during a donor process is large.

As Brooklyn attorneys, we understand the necessity of having medical malpractice lawsuits in place. The injuries sustained due to medical mistakes are often significant and permanent. Patients badly need compensation when such mistakes occur.

However, such lawsuits also play another role. A potential verdict against a medical provider can force facilities to put procedures in place to prevent other medical mistakes from occurring.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Donor's death shatters family, stuns surgeons," Liz Kowalczyk, Feb. 2, 2014

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