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It is true that everyone makes mistakes, but when those mistakes are made in a surgical theater, they are likely to have very damaging and lasting effects. For one woman who was awaiting a kidney donation from her brother at the University of Toledo Medical Center, one nurse’s mistake has cost her a kidney and put her back on the waiting list.

The woman had found a perfect donor match: her brother agreed to donate one of his kidneys to help restore his sister’s health. The surgeon who had just extracted the kidney from the brother had congratulated everyone on a successful surgery and was going to start the next surgery, the surgery in which he would put the kidney inside of the sister, when he discovered the recently-extracted organ was gone. The doctor asked what had happened and who had taken the kidney when a nurse re-entered the operating room, realizing she had flushed the kidney with the other medical waste.

Even if this hadn’t happened in Toledo, it would have caught Ohioans’ attention because this is the first recorded incidence of someone throwing away a healthy donated organ. Some people within the medical field are rationalizing this horrible error by saying that because such a situation wasn’t on anyone’s radar, they could not have possibly prevented it. This, however, has been countered by some hospitals in which there are policies in place that could have stopped this nurse from throwing away a perfect kidney.

It is these kinds of mistakes and oversights that cause such damage to patients. Simple mistakes like this can mean the difference between recovery and many months more of waiting for another organ donor; the difference between life and death. Fortunately, medical malpractice lawsuits can provide compensation to patients harmed by surgical errors.

It is unknown if this woman plans on filing a lawsuit against the hospital.