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Patient overload, death doomed TX kidney transplant program

The Avalanche-Journal, June 13, 2011

A donor's death was the final blow for a struggling kidney transplant program depended upon by patients across the South Plains, newly released records show. Documents obtained by The Avalanche-Journal under the Freedom of Information Act from the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provide explanations never given to University Medical Center transplant patients, now searching across the Southwest for a new, highly specialized surgeon to perform the life-saving operation. High demand overwhelmed the small program, and, the records show, consequences were deadly. The donor's death motivated hospital officials to suspend the program Jan. 21, and letters were sent notifying patients Jan. 27. An Independent Peer Review Team, composed of transplant and nephrology experts from across the country, visited the hospital to inspect the program, in light of poor mortality rates.