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  • Liver Donor Nightmare
  • Laurie E Post

I was a liver donor to my cousin in August 2000. She was a young mother of two with a cirrhotic liver. My family is close–knit and I did not hesitate when she asked. I was a healthy, athletic 34–year–old with a flexible job. I thought I’d do a great thing for a great person. It was a nightmare.

Surgery was August 8th. I was wheeled to the operating room at about 8 a.m. I was left outside the room, on the gurney, with no instructions (as to how long I would be there, whom I would see next, etc.) for 20 minutes. I did not see any surgeons before the surgery.

Surgery was completed and I was sent to ICU. I was visited by my surgeon the next morning. He was going to Geneva, Switzerland the following morning. I did not see him again until I was released on August 15th. ICU care was outstanding. After that, my care significantly deteriorated.

My pain was ignored. When I saw a nurse and complained, I was told to try to sleep. If I pushed [End Page 31] the call button, I was not answered. When I walked the halls at 4 a.m. because I could not sleep due to pain, I was told to go to bed. I was on IV drugs. When the dosage was complete, the chime would sound. At first, I would call the nurse, sometimes get an answer, and tell her the machine was beeping. Twice I was told to turn it off myself. Another time I was ignored for over an hour with a chime every 15 seconds. The average response time to the call was 12–15 minutes. Additionally, some nurses made it a point to flush the lines before any new IV. Others did not flush at all. I saw residents on a regular basis, but members of the transplant team only intermittently.

I was sent home on Tuesday, August 15th. I called the transplant team on August 16th to complain of pain. I was told that the Tylenol with Codeine that was prescribed for me was enough and that I could increase the frequency of dosage. (It was not enough.)

After calling the night before with a complaint of fever and vomiting, I returned to the transplant office on August 25th. I was sent to have an ultrasound and was told that I had a blood clot in my portal vein. I was then admitted and put on a heparin drip and told I would be there over the weekend.

By August 28th, I had not been sent home. I developed an infection. Nobody told me this. I had to ask. I saw Transplant Dr. J. and he mentioned that it was a difficult infection and that I would be seen by an infectious disease specialist. I was put on a vancomycin drip. Twice during the next two days, I was put on the wrong “interval”. The drip should have taken two hours. Mistakes such as “too slow a drip” or “no drip at all” meant only half of the fluid dripping in or no fluid dripping in and more time spent attached to IV. I was sent home on August 31st.

The very next day, I went to the local emergency room with severe abdominal pain and vomiting. They called the transplant team. The operator said that no doctors could be disturbed unless it was an emergency. We had to convince her that it was an emergency. I was treated with Demerol and told to return to the transplant hospital. I was told that a transplant representative would meet us there. We arrived at the ER. No transplant representative. Thankfully, the triage nurse listened to our story and sent for help. A resident, but not a single member of the transplant team, came to the room and said that maybe the JP drain was clogged. I received another shot of Demerol and the JP drain was finally unclogged and four bulbs of liquid came rushing out.

I was admitted and put on maxipime and...


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