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Kidney Donor Says Surgery Was a Disaster

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CN) - Because doctors performed the wrong test on a woman who wanted to donate her kidney to a friend, they gave her organ to a patient with hepatitis C instead, she claims in court.

Christine Clark, of New Ringgold, underwent "months of testing" in 2013 so that she could donate her kidney to a longtime friend with end-stage renal disease, according to the complaint filed in the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas.

On July 2, 2013, within an hour after Pinnacle Health doctors removed Clark's kidney at Harrisburg Hospital, they put her friend under anesthesia to receive the transplant.

The doctors were initially pleased, telling her friend "that plaintiff's kidney was better than they had anticipated; ... it was perfect for [him] ... and it was the 'best kidney they had harvested in ten years,'" the complaint states.

Her friend had been undergoing anesthesia for two hours when the hospital canceled his surgery before an incision was made, according to the complaint. Clark says doctors eventually told her husband that they halted the transplant because she had tested positive for hepatitis C.

Though proper testing later revealed that Clark "was not then currently infected with the hepatitis C virus," the failure to perform the correct test in time "caused catastrophic consequences," she says.

"Had appropriate protocols been established and/or followed, the intended recipient would have received plaintiff's harvested kidney," the March 18 complaint continues.

The doctors did not transplant Clark's kidney to her friend, however, and they also decided not to "autransplant it back into plaintiff," according to the complaint.

"Instead, they purportedly donated the kidney to a hepatitis C-positive patient at a different facility and obtained financial gain and prestige for said transplant," the complaint continues.

Clark says the doctors should have performed "the required nucleic acid hepatitis C test within 10 days before kidney donation."

"Instead, [they] performed a hepatitis C antibody test on June 27, 2013," the complaint states. "Had the correct hepatitis C test been performed, the calamity described below would not have occurred."

Clark says "more than 1,000 patients have had kidney transplants" at Pinnacle since the organization began its kidney-transplant program in 2011.

Having never received an explanation about the hospital's failures, Clark says the loss of her kidney has left her with various injuries including low blood pressure, nerve damage, scarring and humiliation.

The complaint does not reveal whether her friend ever received a kidney transplant.

She and her husband want punitive damages from the hospital, Central Pennsylvania Transplant Foundation Inc., and its doctors and nurses for negligence, misrepresentation, battery and other claims.

They are represented by Jared Kasher with Hockfield & Kasher in Cherry Hill, N.J.

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