Family blames surgeons for death of transplant patient

May 18, 2012, Friday/ 15:35:00

The family of Atilla Kavdır, who died on May 5 only months after undergoing a triple-limb transplant, condemned a recent announcement by the Ministry of Health that there was no evidence of any malpractice or errors during the surgery on the patient and accused surgeons of causing their son's death.

The recipient of Turkey's second double-arm transplant, Kavdır underwent surgery at Akdeniz University Hospital in January. Two arms and one leg were transplanted onto Kavdır, who had lost his arms and right leg when he was 11 years old. The limbs were donated by the family of Ahmet Kaya. Kaya had been seriously injured in a train accident in Uşak and declared brain-dead in mid-January.

The hospital attempted the world's first triple-limb transplant on Kavdır. But Kavdır's situation saw a setback when his body rejected the transplanted leg, leaving surgeons no choice but to amputate it.

Kavdır's family criticized Dr. Ömer Özkan, the surgeon who led the team that performed the surgery, for his decision to transplant a leg.

“We objected to the transplant of a leg in addition to the transplanted arms, yet the doctor [Ömer Özkan] insisted on going ahead with the transplant operation, saying that the tissues were compatible,” said İbrahim Kavdır, the patient's father, adding that the transplanted leg had to be removed only 10 hours after the operation due to tissue incompatibility.

The last operation lasted for four hours and around 250 units of blood were transfused to Atilla Kavdır, Kavdır's mother said, adding that the dysfunctions in her son's kidneys were the result of too many blood transfusions.

“The transplanted leg cost my son his life,” the grieving mother said, condemning the recent announcement by the Ministry of Health and saying that no one had asked their opinion regarding their son's death.

Following Kavdır's death, the Ministry of Health convened the Composite Tissue Transplant Science Commission to investigate whether Kavdır had died because of misconduct or a mistake in the procedure he underwent. The commission announced in a written statement on Wednesday that there was no evidence of malpractice or errors that might have led to Kavdır's death.

“The patient died as a result of an infection that developed due to the immunosuppressive therapy -- which lowers a person's resistance to infection -- he received after the surgery,” the statement said.

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