Memorial Hermann's Texas Medical Center liver transplant program inactivated

Memorial Hermann - Texas Medical Center announced they have inactivated their liver transplant program due to irregularities.

According to Memorial Hermann, there was a pattern of irregularities for donor acceptance criteria within the United Network for Organ Sharing transplant information database for those waiting for a liver transplant.

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The criteria found to be irregular included the age and weight of deceased donors.

No other transplant program has been impacted at Memorial Hermann and all patients and families who were affected are receiving support.

On Friday, April 12, UT Health gave this statement:

Dr. Steve Bynon is an exceptionally talented and caring physician, and a pioneer in abdominal organ transplantation. According to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, Bynon’s survival rates and surgical outcomes are among the best in the nation, even while treating patients with higher-than-average acuity and disease complexity. UTHealth Houston is proud of the many contributions Dr. Bynon and his team have made to our university, our academic and clinical transplant programs, and to the field of transplant medicine. Our faculty and staff members, including Dr. 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.

The full statement is below:

Memorial Hermann is dedicated to the health and well-being of every person we serve and takes seriously our commitment to patient safety.  We were recently made aware of a pattern of irregularities with donor acceptance criteria within the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) transplant information database for patients awaiting a liver transplant at Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center. "Donor acceptance criteria" refers to factors such as the age and weight of deceased donors whose livers are being made available for transplant. These irregularities are limited to the liver transplant program. No other transplant program at Memorial Hermann is impacted.  Upon notification of the irregularities, we immediately began an investigation, and we chose to voluntarily inactivate our liver transplant program.  The voluntary inactivation of the liver transplant program does not impact any other transplant program at Memorial Hermann. 

Memorial Hermann’s investigation is continuing, and we are cooperating fully with all regulatory oversight agencies.  We are also working with all impacted patients and families individually to ensure that they have the care and support that they need.

The incident is reportedly under investigation by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They released a statement below:

 "At the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, we acknowledge the severity of this allegation. We are working across the Department to address this matter now. We are committed to protecting patient safety and equitable access to organ transplant services for all patients. We are working diligently to address this issue with the attention it deserves, including work at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) – which are deploying on site to investigate. Working with our federal and state partners, HHS will pursue all appropriate enforcement and compliance actions to the fullest extent available under relevant regulations and policies to protect the safety and integrity of the organ procurement and transplantation system."