The Hamilton Spectator

Transplant­s halted over manipulate­d records


A Houston hospital has halted its liver and kidney transplant programs after it says a doctor manipulate­d a database for liver transplant patients, making them ineligible to receive a new organ.

Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center said in a statement Friday its ongoing investigat­ion found a doctor had made “inappropri­ate changes” in a database for people awaiting liver transplant­s.

Memorial Hermann’s statement didn’t name the doctor, but the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, or UTHealth Houston, issued a statement defending Dr. Steve Bynon, calling him “an exceptiona­lly talented and caring physician” with survival rates that are “among the best in the nation.”

Bynon is an employee of UTHealth Houston who is contracted to Memorial Hermann. UTHealth said its faculty and staff, including Bynon, are assisting with the inquiry into Memorial Hermann’s liver transplant program and are “committed to addressing and resolving any findings identified by this process.”

Memorial Hermann said a doctor made changes to the donor acceptance criteria, which includes factors like the age and weight of the deceased donors.

The hospital said the inappropri­ate changes were only made to the liver transplant program, but since there is shared leadership over both the liver and kidney transplant programs, they inactivate­d both.

Shutting down the transplant programs during the investigat­ion is prudent with an “allegation of this magnitude,” according to Karen Maschke, a research scholar at the Hastings Center, a medical ethics think tank.

“They know full well that when they put a program on hold, it’s going to have a really serious impact on patients. So I think they probably don’t make that decision lightly.”

Such allegation­s of manipulati­ng a transplant waiting list can undermine the public’s trust in the organ allocation system, Maschke said.

A Houston hospital said a doctor changed the donor acceptance criteria for liver transplant­s, which includes factors like the age and weight of the deceased donors

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