Surgeon removes kidney he thought was tumor

A Florida surgeon removed a woman's healthy kidney while she was undergoing back surgery because he believed the vital organ was a cancerous tumor.

Maureen Pacheco, who was 51 at the time of the surgery, sued Ramon Vazquez and two other surgeons for malpractice. Vazquez was responsible for cutting Pacheco open in 2016 so two orthopedic surgeons, Dr. John Britt and Dr. Jeffrey Kugler, could perform the back operation.

Pacheco's attorney, Donald J. Ward, says she didn't get a say in the removal.

The lawsuit was settled in September. Vazquez's attorney Mark Mittelmark says the blame lies with Wellington Regional Medical Center, which didn't tell his client that Pacheco had a pelvic kidney.

The Florida Department of Health filed an administrative complaint with the Board of Medicine against Vazquez.

The complaint states that Vazquez saw what turned out to be the kidney and made a presumptive diagnosis of a gynecologic malignancy lymphoma and/or other metastatic disease.

Vazquez determined that the surgical procedure would continue and that a biopsy of teh mass was not indicated given the potential malignancy.  The pelvic mass was clipped, transected and removed in its entirety.

A few days later a pathologist at the hospital confirmed the mass was an intact pelvic kidney.

The state was seeking to revoke Vazquez's license.

With the Associated Press

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