CAMDEN, NJ – A New Jersey hospital provided a 51-year-old man with a successful kidney transplant this past week. One problem: That kidney was supposed to go to somebody else.

Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden gave a kidney to the wrong patient – somebody who, incredibly, has the same name and is around the same age as the person who was supposed to get it, according to a statement from the hospital.

The transplant operation occurred Nov. 18; the next day, a member of the clinical team discovered that the 51-year-old patient received the transplant “out of priority order” based on the matching list provided by the United Network for Organ Sharing, according to the hospital.

Virtua leaders then notified both patients. The medical director and the transplant coordinator visited the person who should have received the kidney and apologized, offering any additional support needed, the hospital said.

Luckily, on Sunday, the person who was supposed to receive the organ got another one. That patient underwent a successful kidney transplant and is doing well, the hospital said.

The 51-year-old was also a successful match for the kidney and also is doing well, the hospital said.

“We have a profound responsibility to people who literally place their lives in our hands,” said Reginald Blaber, executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Virtua Health. “Mistakes of this magnitude are rare; and despite the unusual circumstances of similar patient identities, additional verification would have prevented this error. “

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After the hospital became aware of the error, Virtua voluntarily reported it to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and the New Jersey Department of Health, and it began an investigation, the statement said.

All safety measures were validated, the hospital said, and additional checks were put into place before any subsequent transplant procedures took place.

Blaber said the mix-up was “an unprecedented event in our respected 40-plus-year transplant program.”

“As an organization committed to safety and process, we immediately instituted additional measures and educational reinforcement to help ensure this does not happen again,” he said.

Blaber said the hospital remains steadfast “in doing the right thing and caring for the affected patients and their families.”

“Recognizing the human component of medicine,” he said, “we know that taking accountability and talking about issues openly and honestly is how we learn and improve.”

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