Sommers Schwartz attorneys Matthew Turner and Michael McCullough secured a nearly $1.5 million medical malpractice settlement for the estate of a 58-year-old patient who died from complications following liver transplant surgery. According to the lawsuit, the defendant surgeon failed to reject a compromised liver and also failed to inform the patient of the organ’s compromised condition.
Despite needing a liver transplant due to Hepatitis C and Hepatocellular Carcinoma, the decedent functioned normally. The cancer had been treated and was under control and the patient had no symptoms of liver failure. As a result, the decedent had been very selective in accepting a liver for transplant and turned down multiple livers previously offered, including one on the same morning as the liver that was ultimately accepted.
The decedent was told the liver was a “perfect match” but never advised that the donor liver was marginal, at best, as the family discovered after death. The liver appeared fatty and initial biopsy results available before transplant showed 30-35% macrovesicular steatosis, evidenced by large black fat droplets within the liver cells and associated with fatty liver disease. A liver with that degree of macrovesicular steatosis has a much higher likelihood of failure than a standard liver. That organ should have been reserved only for transplant patients desperate for transplant and at risk of dying or being taken off the transplant list—a tiny percentage of the total liver transplants performed in any given year.
Without advising the patient or the patient’s family of the inferior state of the donor organ, the surgeon proceeded with the transplant operation. He failed to recognize and appreciate that the proposed donor liver appeared diseased and that after biopsy was considered marginal for transplant and continued with the procedure.
The suit alleged the surgeon violated the standard of care by not rejecting the liver outright on his own and then again by failing to appropriately inform the patient or the family about the characteristics of the donor liver. There was no urgency to perform the transplant, and the decedent’s condition did not require that a marginal liver be accepted. The family claimed that had the defendant properly advised them about the donor liver, the organ would have been declined and they would have waited for a more suitable liver with a greater chance of success. Instead, because of the surgeon’s decision to transplant a marginal liver, there were numerous complications post-operatively resulting in primary graft failure. The patient suffered from infections, sepsis, and multi-organ failure that resulted in the patient’s premature and wrongful death.
Our attorneys have been featured on local and national media outlets, including: