Local hospital on probation after transplantable donor heart discarded

Houston Methodist Hospital has been placed on probation because of the way it handled a recent heart transplant case.

In a report, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) board of directors said Methodist "recovered a donor heart knowing its use was unlikely for the intended candidate.  The heart was eventually discarded without an opportunity to be used for a different candidate."

Dr. Osama Gabre, director of Methodist's Transplant Center, said time delays and communication issues with their teams and other hospitals caused problems.

"The communication issue that caused the problem really focused on the multiple delays that happened in the operating room time," said Gabre.

OPTN told Methodist to make improvements in order to get off the probation list. Gabre said they are now putting improvements in place.

"We trained personnel. We changed process. We figured out different ways of communication. We aligned organs and transplants and teams separately. We decided that losing an organ is unacceptable. We are going to fix it," said Dr. Gabre.

Amanda De Jesus knows how life-saving organ donations can be.  She received a heart transplant at a different local hospital. 

"Every ounce of communication, every person is so important when it comes to a transplant," said De Jesus.

She was surprised to hear about the issues at Methodist.

"At least they will make the changes and hopefully for the next patient they will have everything that they need in line so this will never happen again," said De Jesus.

Gabre said Methodist's probationary period could last as long as a year. He said probation does not bar the hospital from treating patients or performing transplant procedures. He said the probation focuses on getting the hospital to improve policies, procedures and training.

Gabre said the Methodist patient who was supposed to receive the heart but didn't end up getting it was later able to receive a different donor heart.

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