Tragically, a mother of three children died recently in a New York hospital while trying to provide a life-saving kidney donation for her younger brother. The 41-year-old woman succumbed to excess bleeding after a surgeon cut her aorta, a major blood vessel, on the operating table during the transplant operation.
Her brother had been diagnosed with kidney failure and was on dialysis for months while waiting for a transplant. He never did receive his sister's kidney, but a transplant kidney from a donor who had died was recently located for him and has been surgically implanted.
The woman was participating in the hospital's Live Donor Organ Transplant Program. The program has been in place for more than 40 years. Over the length of the program, the hospital has performed more than 1,000 operations. On its own initiative, the hospital has now suspended the program, which had never before experienced the death of a donor.
New York's state health department has begun an investigation into the woman's death. A spokesperson for the hospital's legal representatives expressed sympathy for the woman's survivors during the very difficult time they were experiencing.
One survivor in particular - the brother she was trying to help - expressed feelings of deep regret and sorrow that his sister had died while trying to save his life. He may find it difficult to overcome his sense of guilt over her loss, even though he had nothing to do with wielding the scalpel that caused her death. If anything, this situation merely illustrates how surgical mistakes can happen at almost any time.
Source: The Huffington Post, "New York Mother, Dies During Operation To Donate Kidney To Brother," Tara Kelly, June 7, 2012