Tuesday 17 January 2012


Someone asked me today what my craziest experience was in the operating room.  This particular event still seems to be out of a movie, because it's almost too strange to believe.

I was doing my transplant surgery rotation during my 4th year of surgical training, and I was assisting one of the transplant surgeons on a laparoscopic donor nephrectomy (taking a kidney out of one person through very small incisions so that it can be transplanted into another person). After clamping and cutting the major blood vessels and the ureter, the kidney is placed into a plastic bag that's attached to a handle, and we then extract the bag through one of the incisions, which we keep as small as possible. Sometimes the incisions are just too small and the bag won't fit through without a lot of pulling and tugging.  Fortunately the bags are quite strong and designed to take this kind of abuse.  Well...maybe not THIS much abuse.

The kidney went in the bag and the surgeon was trying to pull it out.  She pulled...and pulled...and pulled...until finally the kidney popped out, the bag broke, and the kidney landed with a very dull *plop* on the floor.

For what seemed like minutes (but was probably only a second or two)...DEAD SILENCE.

She picked up the kidney, put it into the basin of ice, burst into the adjoining operating theatre where the transplant recipient was waiting for the kidney, and yelled, "I DROPPED THE FUCKING KIDNEY!"

There were a few lacerations on it that we had to repair, and we still implanted it, and fortunately it still worked. But it was definitely a surreal experience.


  1. Hey doc, what's your new pic on fml? Looks like a dildo... Anyways, what's the story?!

  2. So that's how y'all do it... I had my kidney removed when I was 9 and I always wondered how when the incisions were so small. Anyways, niice. At least it still worked and you got a good story out of it!

  3. Seriously?!?! Did the recipient know he/she got damaged goods? I work in surgical oncology and we all know things happen, but damn!

  4. Yes, the recipient and donor were both given full disclosure. Fortunately they also understood that mistakes happen, and since the kidney still worked (delayed function), no harm was done. Except maybe to the surgeon's ego. :)

  5. But what about the risk of infection? Is there a way to clean the kidney after it falls on the floor? I've often wondered about that scenario.

  6. That's hilarious. My mom worked as a nurse for seventeen years and accidentally dropped a wheel (I have no idea where it came from) on a patient's newly operated abdomen. Sometimes all you can do is laugh and be a little mortified.

  7. Oops!

    Time to break out the antibiotics!

  8. "Just soak it in betadine!" -Every plastic surgeon, ever


If you post spam or advertisements, I will hunt you down and eliminate you.

Comments may be moderated. Trolls will be deleted, and off-topic comments will not be approved.

Web-hosted images may be included thusly: [im]image url here[/im]. Maybe. I'm testing it.

Not dead

I'll start this post by answering a few questions that may or may not be burning in your mind: No, I'm not dead.  No, I didn't g...