Report: Hospital Mismanagement Wasted Organ

Accusations levied against Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center for preventing liver transplant over intraoffice politics.

Tova Dvorin ,

Surgery (illustration)
Surgery (illustration)

Accusations are flying against both a doctor and the administrative staff at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center, Channel 2 revealed Monday night, after miscommunication allegedly botched a liver transplant.

Six days ago, Dr. Hadar Merhav, the director of the Transplant Unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center, received an alert that a patient had donated a liver - and that the liver was suitable for a fifty year-old woman next on the waiting list.

But the liver was never transplanted, according to information obtained by Channel 2, after the administration at the hospital vetoed Merhav's involvement in the operation due to intra-office politics. 

The hospital had apparently been looking to fire Merhav for some time, and had insisted instead that Dr. Yaacov Ben-Haim, another senior physician, perform the transplant. 

However, Ben-Haim refused - writing an email immediately to the decision-makers in the department - out of deference for Merhav, who has 25 years of experience, had performed more than 350 liver transplants, and whom Ben-Haim insisted was more suitable for the risky operation. 

"Dr. Merhav is the director for transplants," he stated in an email. "In every sense - certainly in light of his accomplishments (facts and figures, not stories!) he is able and fit to lead the surgery regarding all aspects of liver transplantation. I'm unwilling to cooperate with the discredit or damage to his standing or reputation [by replacing him]." 

The administration apparently waffled over the refusal, wasting the liver, which was not kept long enough to be transferred to another patient - a sad waste of a donated organ in a country whose organ demand far outweighs its supply. 

Following the incident, the Jerusalem Labor Court issued an injunction Sunday which prohibits the Hadassah hospital staff from dismissing Dr. Hadar Merhav.

Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center staff denied allegations of mismanagement, however. 

"The picture being presented here does not include all the facts and medical circumstances that did not allow the execution of the transplant," an email sent to the news site stated. "There is no decision in the above case regardless of power disputes, because with all due respect to Dr. Merhav and Professor Ben-Haim, the executive director and medical staff performs the instructions and guidelines set by the management."

"The present case we are dealing with what is defined as a 'borderline liver,' which was rejected by Beilinson and Ichilov hospitals, and as reported to the Director of the Hadassah Medical Center, and also in a conversation that took place between Dr. Merhav and Ms. Tamar Ashkenazi of the Israeli transplant center." 

The statement added that the events surrounding Merhav's slated dismissal were separate, and that Ben-Haim and another doctor had been promoted to the position to replace him.  

The email also accused Merhav and others of using the media for personal gain and for an agenda against the hospital, which is currently recovering from a budget crisis. 

"This is only regrettable that at a time when management is working to implement the recovery plan in accordance with the corporate governance approved by the District Court, there are those seeking to discredit the management of Hadassah due to personal considerations," the statement said. 

A representative of the Healthy Ministry dismissed at least part of these claims, however, and stated to Channel 2 - in contrast to Hadassah Medical Center - that the liver was, in fact, not offered to any other hospital in Israel and that it is "under investigation."