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Boy's mum warned doctors were taking wrong kidney

Worried parents asked staff at one of Dublin's leading hospitals four times if the correct organ had been identified before operating on their son

Jennifer Stewart and her husband Oliver Conroy revealed they felt embarrassed and silly as they pursued their worries with staff at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin prior to the operation.

Their last query was lodged with the surgeon outside of the theatre on March 21, 2008, as their young son -- now eight years old -- lay inside on the operating table.

"We still thought the doctors might not be right. We felt a little silly asking outside an operating theatre," Ms Stewart said in her evidence to a Medical Council fitness-to-practise committee.

Two senior doctors -- Professor Martin Corbally and Mr Sri Paran -- yesterday appeared before the Medical Council after a complaint was lodged by the hospital.

The young boy, then aged six, was under the care of Prof Corbally, consultant paediatric surgeon, who had incorrectly identified the healthy left kidney for removal, rather than the diseased right kidney.

The operation itself was then carried out by the specialist surgical registrar, Sri Paran.

Among the allegations are that Prof Corbally failed to properly review X-rays on January 17, 2008 and erroneously wrote that the left kidney should be removed.

It is also claimed Mr Paran had failed to adequately review the scans and failed to raise the parents' concerns with Prof Corbally.

An ultrasound scan carried out in November 2007 revealed his left kidney was functioning normally, while the right was small, with only 9pc function.

On January 17, 2008, after they were told he needed to have the bad kidney removed, they met with Prof Corbally who noted that there was a problem with the left kidney rather than the right. "This was the first in a series of errors which led unfortunately to the wrong kidney being removed," Patrick Leonard, counsel on behalf of the Medical Council, said.

Ms Stewart said she specifically remembers the right side being originally identified as it would match a scar her son already has on the other side.

She said they queried the removal of the left kidney with nurses again and when a senior house officer came to take their consent for the operation.

"We were embarrassed asking him was it right. We were naive; doctors were right in our minds," she said.

Outside the theatre, Mr Conroy said he had asked the surgeon to review photographic evidence and believed it had been done.

Counsel for Mr Paran queried whether the parents' had requested he look at the X-rays.

However, the father said he remembered the conversations "vividly".

"That is one of the reasons we are here today because of a difference of opinions in Sri Paran's account and ours," Mr Conroy said.

Olive Delaney, the clinical nurse manager in the operating theatre, said a nurse had alerted her that the parents were concerned about the kidney to be removed.

Ms Delaney said she asked Mr Paran to talk to the parents about it. Ms Delaney said she told him the X-rays had been found and believed they had "everything they needed to make an informed consent".

However, counsel for the surgeon, said his evidence would be that he was unaware of or didn't acknowledge the X-rays were before him as suggested.

During the operation, it was pointed out that the patient was losing a lot of blood for a kidney that was not functioning.

Prof Corbally came to the theatre, looked over Mr Paran's shoulder, asked for the X-rays and went straight to the scrub-up area, Ms Delaney said. "By the time he got back in the kidney was out," she said. "It was at that point I realised we had taken out the wrong kidney."

A specialist transplant team was alerted. However, it was not possible to successfully reinsert the healthy kidney.

"I accept that I am ultimately responsible for a patient's safety as their treating consultant and the fact this error occurred is a source of deep distress and regret for me," Prof Corbally said outside of the inquiry, as he offered his apologies to the family.

The hearing will continue in September.

Source Irish Independent

Belfast Telegraph