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Doctor Removes A Woman's Kidney After Mistaking It For A Tumor

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If you think being told you need surgery is a scary thought, you're not alone.

The anxiety of going under the knife is a common fear, but reminding yourself you're in the capable hands of well-trained doctors can often calm the mind.  

However, when a Florida woman went to the hospital to have a back operation, she became devastated when her doctor told her what he had done.

Now, Maureen Pacheco's surgeon may lose his medical license after performing a blotched procedure that cost her a healthy organ.

"In no way did Dr. Vazquez admit liability by agreeing to this settlement."

In April 2016, Pacheco checked into the Wellington Regional Medical Center to have few vertebra in her lower back fused together, but during the operation Dr. Ramon Vazquez mistook her kidney for a cancerous tumor and had it removed, the Palm Beach Post reported.

In the lawsuit filed by Pacheco, she said she wasn't wasn't consulted on the matter, and to make the situation even worse, Vazquez wasn't even assigned to the surgery.

Maureen Pacheco
Maureen PachecoWPTV

Instead, he was tasked with cutting Pacheco open so her orthopedic surgeons could perform the assigned back operation.  

"As you can imagine, when someone goes in for a back surgery, she would never expect to wake up and be told when she’s just waking up from anesthesia, that one of her kidneys has been unnecessarily removed," Pacheco’s attorney, Donald J. Ward, told the news outlet.

Following the incident, the Florida’s Department of Health has filed a complaint against Vasquez under the pretense that he gave a "presumptive diagnosis of a gynecologic malignancy, lymphoma, and/or other metastatic disease."

Although he now faces penalties ranging from a fine to losing his medical license, he has settled the lawsuit with Pacheco.

"The case was settled on his behalf for a nominal amount due to the uncertainty of litigation and in no way did Dr. Vazquez admit liability by agreeing to this settlement," Vazquez’s attorney Mark Mittelmark told the publication in an email.

According to the Department of Insurance Regulation, the malpractice insurers of Pacheco's primary physicians  Dr. John Britt and Dr. Jeffrey Kugler settled for $250,000 per doctor.

"I just wish that he learns a lesson from the consequences."

According to the Washington Post, Vazquez had a spotless disciplinary record prior to the incident.

Since January, the surgeon has held the title of chairman of surgery at Palm Beach Medical Center and has privileges at the Bethesda Memorial Hospital, and the St. Mary’s and Good Samaritan medical centers.

However, in a statement to the Washington Post, Wellington Regional Medical Center said Vazquez "is not and has never been an employee" of its hospital, and had been working as an independent surgeon.  

"Dr. Vazquez is no longer on the medical staff of Wellington Regional," it read. "Wellington Regional took all necessary and appropriate steps to review the circumstances of this most unfortunate incident."

"In the over-30-year history of Wellington Regional Medical Center, an incident of this nature has never occurred before or since."

Wellington Regional Medical Center
The Wellington Regional Medical Center Wellington Regional Medical Center/Facebook

The National Kidney Foundation states that individuals who live with one kidney are able to live "lead normal, healthy lives," but are more likely to have high blood pressure and a slight loss of kidney function in their later years.

Despite the trauma, Pacheco said she has no bitterness towards Vazquez.

"I wish no ill will against him. Everyone is entitled to their livelihood but you should have consequences when gross mistakes and negligence are made,” she told  WPTV.

"I just wish that he learns a lesson from the consequences."

[H/T: Washington Post, WPTV, Palm Beach Post]

What do you think Vazquez's punishment should be? Let us know in the comments!

Maya has been working at Shared for a year. She just begrudgingly spent $200 on a gym membership. Contact her at maya@shared.com