Surgeon Allegedly Denied Patients Transplants

Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center
Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center | Image by Memorial Hermann

A prominent surgeon in Houston has been accused of misconduct in his role with the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center’s liver transplant program.

A New York Times report raises serious concerns about potential irregularities that may have impacted patients’ access to life-saving transplants, highlighting accusations against Dr. J. Steve Bynon for secretly denying patients liver transplants. According to NYT, a significant number of those who were denied transplants died while waiting for organs.

An investigation is underway to determine whether Bynon secretly manipulated a government database, potentially rendering some patients ineligible for critical organ transplants.

Bynon, who works at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, has been contracted to oversee Memorial Hermann’s abdominal transplant program since 2011, according to NYT.

When contacted for comment, the surgeon referred inquiries to UT Health Houston, which declined to provide a statement to The Dallas Express.

In response to the allegations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released an official statement, according to ABC 13, which reads:

“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 deployed 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.”

Memorial Hermann is also conducting its own investigation into the matter.

The hospital system publicly acknowledged irregularities within its transplant program earlier this month, prompting the immediate suspension of its liver transplant procedures, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Only days after announcing the suspension of its liver transplant program, Memorial Hermann announced the suspension of its kidney transplant program, according to an official statement. As reported by the Houston Chronicle, there is allegedly no issue with the kidney transplant program itself, but the program shares personnel with the liver transplant program.

When the transplant programs were shut down, the medical center had 38 patients awaiting a liver transplant and 346 patients on its kidney list, the hospital reported. The hospital is helping these patients find alternative treatment options, NYT reported.

The Dallas Express reached out to Memorial Hermann for comment, but no response was received by publication deadline.

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