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Houston Hospital Halts Liver, Kidney Transplants After Doctor Allegedly Manipulated Some Candidate Files

A Houston hospital has halted its liver and kidney transplant programs after discovering that a doctor allegedly manipulated the records of liver transplant candidates.

“Inappropriate changes … have effectively inactivated candidates on the liver transplant waiting list,” Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center said in a statement published Thursday in the Houston Chronicle. “Subsequently, these patients were unable to receive organ donation offers during their inactivity.”

The New York Times, citing officials, identified the doctor as Dr. J. Steve Bynon Jr., a surgeon at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, who had a contract to run the program. Memorial Hermann abdominal transplant.

In a statement to CBS News, UTHealth Houston called Bynon “an exceptionally talented and caring physician, and a pioneer in abdominal organ transplantation.”

“Our faculty and staff, including Dr. Bynon, are participating in the investigation of Memorial Hermann’s liver transplant program and are committed to addressing and resolving any findings identified through this process,” Gate said -UTHealth Houston spokesperson Deborah Mann Lake in a statement.

CBS affiliate KHOU reported last week that the hospital was pausing its liver donation program, citing a “pattern of irregularities” in donor acceptance criteria. These criteria included the weight and age of the patients.

The “irregularities” were limited to liver transplants, the hospital said, but kidney transplants were halted because the programs share the same leadership.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is aware of these allegations and an investigation is underway, according to a statement from the agency.

“We are committed to protecting patient safety and equitable access to organ transplant services for all patients,” the statement said. “HHS will pursue all appropriate enforcement and compliance actions…to protect the safety and integrity of the organ procurement and transplantation system.”

Memorial Hermann has seen an increasing number of liver transplant candidates die while on the waiting list or become too sick for a transplant in recent years, according to data from the Organ Procurement Transplantation Network.

Four patients died or became too ill for a transplant in 2021, 11 in 2022, 14 in 2023 and five so far in 2024, the data showed.

UTHealth Houston, citing the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, said in its statement that “Dr. Bynon’s survival rates and surgical outcomes are among the best in the nation, even when treating patients with acute disease acuity and complexity.” above average”.

Memorial Hermann did not say how long the programs would remain closed.

The hospital said it is working with patients and their families to provide care and is contacting all 38 patients on the liver program’s transplant list and all 346 patients on the kidney transplant list.

Patients on waiting lists do not receive organ offers when the transplant program is interrupted, but they accumulate waiting time, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Patients may also be on multiple transplant waiting lists or transfer their wait time to another program, although each program has its own criteria for evaluating and accepting transplant candidates.

In Houston, Houston Methodist, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center also offer transplant programs.

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