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When the surgeon removes the wrong organ; a painful ordeal

With all the training and expertise the average surgical team has, you would think that wrong-site surgeries would be a thing of the past. And yet, these incidents keep happening with chilling regularity in the United States.

In one of the most recent examples, a woman is accusing her surgeon of operating on the completely wrong organ, leaving her in severe pain and putting her life at serious risk.

Bizarre surgical error

The woman told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that she had a cancerous tumor on one of her adrenal glands that needed to be removed. She went to a surgeon in her area for the procedure, but instead of removing the tumor, he removed about 40 percent of her pancreas. For reference, pancreas is in between the kidneys, while the adrenal glands are located above the kidneys.

Humans need a functioning pancreas to properly control blood sugar levels in their bodies. Without one, the woman now has type 1 diabetes. Fluid from the remains of her pancreas keeps leaking into her abdomen. In 11 months since the botched operation, the woman has had to endure 27 more surgeries just to drain the fluid, which causes her “stabbing” pain.

Perhaps worst of all, the tumor is still in there as her doctors wait for her to recover enough to try to get it removed again. After nearly a year, the woman is terrified how much her cancer has advanced due to the surgeon’s negligence.

How did this happen?

It isn’t clear from the Star-Telegram story how the surgeon mixed up which organ to operate on. But the surgeon allegedly told the plaintiff’s family that he had successfully removed the cancerous gland.

What we do know is medical malpractice is a serious problem in Hawaii. Patients are entitled to a doctor who takes reasonable steps to avoid this kind of catastrophe.

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