Another Fatal Transplant Error?

Transplant errors AP / CBS

The parents of a 17-month-old girl who died last summer after receiving a transplanted liver that didn't match her blood type are suing two Dallas hospitals and three surgeons who were involved.

The lawsuit alleges that doctors mistakenly gave Jeanella Aranda a liver transplant from her father instead of from her mother. The mother and child had type O blood; the father is type A.

The case recalls the death last month of Jesica Santillan, the teenager who underwent two heart-lung transplants in North Carolina. As with Jeanella, Jesica's first transplanted organs had been the wrong blood type and her body rejected them. Her parents have not said if they will sue.

The New York Times reported that while many surgeons and organ transplant agencies say such errors are rare, no one really knows. There is no national registry of such cases and the organization that controls the distribution of organs from cadavers does not record mismatches in its computer system.

According to the lawsuit filed Monday in Texas, a surgeon at Children's Medical Center severed the blood veins and arteries around Jeanella's liver, causing uncontrollable bleeding.

Hospital officials told the girl's parents she needed a transplant and recommended they be tested as possible donors.

A laboratory that performed the blood typing for Jeanella and her parents mixed up the blood types of the parents and incorrectly identified the father as a suitable donor of a partial liver. Partial liver donations are becoming more common because livers regenerate quickly in donor and recipient alike.

The father went to Baylor University Medical Center, where surgeons removed part of his liver and sent it to Children's Medical Center. It was transplanted into Jeanella in July.

After the transplant, the girl developed a blood disorder, fever, kidney problems, lung hemorrhages and jaundice.

But the blood type mismatch was not detected until 19 days after the surgery, when the mother noticed that Jeanelle's transfusions were type O, and asked whether the transplant had been a mismatch.

Doctors realized she was correct. The girl died the next day.

The parents, Cesar and Alicia Aranda, are suing both hospitals and the doctors who operated on Jeanella and Cesar Aranda, claiming both hospitals should have double-checked the blood types.

The physicians named in the lawsuit are Dr. Robert Goldstein, Dr. Philip Guzzetta and Dr. Jay Roden, who were involved in the operations.

In statements, both hospitals said they understood the father's blood type to be a match, The Dallas Morning News reported.

"An exhaustive review of the care Jeanella received at our hospital has been conducted, and Children's believes it acted appropriately, based on the information provided to us by an external laboratory," the hospital's statement read in part.
  • Dan Collins

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