In May 2018, the Houston Chronicle wrote an expose on the troubles of Baylor St. Luke’s Heart Transplant Program. Two of the three families featured were being represented by John Brothers, a medical malpractice attorney at Brown, Christie & Green. St. Luke’s in Houston has long been known as a world-class heart transplant center. In recent years, however, its reputation has been tarnished by poor surgical outcomes resulting in unusual complications and death. In addition, leading physicians have left the program and certain surgeries have been scaled back.
An investigative report conducted as a collaboration between the Houston Chronicle and Pro Publica, an independent, non-profit news room, states that the survival rate for heart transplants performed at St. Luke’s now ranks near the bottom nationally. The one-year survival rate national average is 91.4%, and between mid-2014 and the end of 2016, St. Luke’s only averaged 85%. In the first six months of 2015, five out of the 14 patients who received transplants died in less than a year. In response, Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cited the transplant program for outcomes which were “significantly worse-than-expected”.
Concerns have also been leveled about Dr. Jeffrey Morgan, a surgeon who took over as the director of the St. Luke’s heart transplant program in 2016. It is claimed that during transplant surgery, Morgan stitched through major veins that carry blood back to the heart on two different patients causing serious complications. Morgan has also been named in two medical malpractice suits in Detroit where he left to take the director’s job in Houston.
The investigative report offers details about patients and their families who claim they have suffered as a result of their experiences at St. Luke’s.
The David Kveton Case
At the beginning of 2017, David Kveton received a heart transplant performed by Dr. Jeffrey Morgan which failed. Kveton was put through a week of follow-up surgeries and two strokes before he died. An anonymous letter sent to his wife Judy two months later told her that St. Luke’s has some of the worst heart transplant results in the United States, and expressed concerns over the problematic and sometimes fatal outcomes of Dr. Morgan’s surgeries. A cardiologist who looked into the case hypothesized that there may have been too much time between when the heart was taken from the donor and when it was implanted into David Kveton.
The Lazerick Eskridge Case
Lazerick Eskridge had suffered from congestive heart failure as a result of chemotherapy he had undergone 20 years earlier and had been on the heart waiting list since 2015. On February 8, 2017, a heart became available and Dr. Jeffrey Morgan performed his heart transplant. An hour after the completion of the surgery, Eskridge was back in surgery and in critical condition. A private practice transplant cardiologist claims to have uncovered information that Dr. Morgan sutured through a major vein during the transplant which blocked blood flow. Eskridge has had to endure a series of follow-up surgeries, kidney failure, multiple infections, and an injured right diaphragm.
The Houston Chronicle article cites other patients who suffered complications at St. Luke’s, and patients who were turned away for transplants when the center scaled back on its surgeries. No patient should have to suffer from substandard or negligent healthcare. If you or a loved one have suffered a serious adverse medical outcome, such as a surgical error, contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Brown, Christie & Green. You deserve to understand your legal options and to get compensation for your injuries and losses.
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