Hospital removed liver from a patient who was not legally dead

OperatingIllustration. Photo: Gorm Kallestad / SCANPIX

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The University Hospital of Northern Norway broke the law when a liver was removed from a patient who was not legally dead, according to a preliminary audit report from the Norwegian Board of Health.

The patient fell and sustained life-threatening injuries. After he was admitted as an emergency case in a hospital in Tromsø and operated on, doctors concluded that it was not possible to save his life. The doctors concluded after a separate death diagnosis that the patient was clinically dead but the hospital did not check if the patient was legally dead, reports the Aftenposten.

Organ donation is not allowed until a person is dead and death is defined as “total destruction of the brain”.

Hospitals are required to ensure an “objective confirmation” that the blood supply to the brain has ceased before the organs can be removed. This is done by means of a so-called CT angiography examination. The doctor who checked the images interpreted that there was no blood circulation in the patient’s brain.

But three weeks later, a neuroscientist concluded that the images were misinterpreted, according to the report. The hospital then notified the Health Authority of the incident.

The audit report stated that the hospital’s routines were “culpable” and “unjustifiable”.

Medical Director Haakon Lindekleiv wrote in an email to Aftenposten that they regretted the incident and that it has been reviewed internally.

“We agree with the Health Authority’s assessments and regard this as a system failure,” the hospital responded, saying that organ donation at UNN is safe. They also added that they will establish written procedures for imaging diagnostics in organ donation.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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