Man had heart attack after learning transplant didn’t go ahead
Because medics found a tumour and had to carry out emergency surgery
By Claire Bates
Last updated at 5:39 PM on 13th September 2011
A man who went under the knife so he could donate his kidney to a relative died just hours later… after doctors found an unexpected cancerous tumour on his organ.
He is the first donor to have died in the UK as a result of a live organ donation.
The man, who had been unaware he was ill, successfully came through emergency surgery to remove the tumour, but died from a heart attack while recovering on a ward.
Meanwhile his relative awoke in an adjoining operating theatre at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, to the shocking news that the transplant had not gone ahead and that his relative had died.
Around 1,000 live kidney transplants take place in the UK each year. Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham have just reported the first death
A hospital source said: ‘This was a very tragic situation. Clearly it was a blow for the transplant not to go ahead with both the donor and recipient in the operating theatre. That was bad enough.
‘But for the donor to die so suddenly after surgery must have been a terrible blow.’
In the last 12 months the Queen Elizabeth has successfully transplanted more than 50 kidney patients through live donation. In the last year, more than 1,000 people have received a kidney this way in the UK.
The procedure is regarded as highly safe and there have been no known deaths sine live donation of organ started more than 10 year ago.
There have been a number of deaths reported in the US but British doctors have prided themselves on the safety of live donation.
But donors are always warned that there is some risk attached to surgery.
A spokesman for UK Blood and Transplant said: ‘Potential live donors undergo months of tests and medical checks to make sure they are healthy enough to donate and that there no problems with the kidney.
‘Patients kidneys are scanned prior to transplant but it is not always possible to pick up everything. Surgeons always say that you can never be certain everything is alright until the patient is opened up and you can see the kidney.’
Unusual: Surgeons at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham perform around 50 live kidney donor operations a year. However, one male patient was found to have a renal tumour during surgery
She added: ‘These were an unusual set of circumstances but this shouldn’t deter people wanting to be live donors.
‘There are risks if you have surgery at anytime and it is known that a heart attack can follow surgery. But there have been thousands of live donor transplants without any complications.’
A spokesman for University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘A patient being prepared as a live kidney donor was found to have a previously undetected renal tumour at operation.
‘The patient underwent specialist uro-oncology surgery to remove the tumour. The procedure went well and the tumour was successfully removed.
‘Unfortunately the patient had a post-operative heart attack. which is an unusual, but recognised, complication of any major surgery.
‘Sadly, in this patient’s case the cardiac event was fatal, despite initial resuscitation and supportive care in the critical care unit.’
The hospital said the death had not affected the live donation programme which was continuing as normal.