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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 07:22 GMT 08:22 UK
Fatal kidney error trial continues
Surgeon John Roberts
Surgeon John Roberts denies manslaughter
The trial is expected to continue on Thursday of two west Wales doctors charged with the manslaughter of a patient who died after his healthy kidney was removed by mistake.

Graham Reeves, 70, died five weeks after having a health kidney removed during an operation at Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli in January 2000.


She told Mr Goel that she thought it was the right kidney was not functioning and the left one was compensating for it

Leighton Davies QC

Consultant urologist John Roberts, 60, from Ty Coch, Swansea, and surgeon Mahesh Chard Goel, 40, from Burnley, Lancashire, have denied manslaughter.

On Wednesday Cardiff Crown Court heard how a "fateful chain of events" led to Mr Reeves's death.

The jury was told how a medical student had warned Mr Goel - who performed the operation - that he was taking out the wrong kidney.

The court was told that Victoria Fern spoke to Mr Goel during the operation after studying the X-rays on the wall of the operating theatre.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Leighton Davies QC, said: "She told Mr Goel that she thought it was the right kidney was not functioning and the left one was compensating for it.

Dr Mahesh Chard Goel
Dr Mahesh Chard Goel performed the operation

"Mr Goel told her she had got it wrong. But she hadn't got it wrong at all."

The court heard that by the time the error had been discovered the healthy kidney had been put in a jar of sterilising agent - and could never be used.

The jury was told that wrong kidney had been identified on an admittance slip when Mr Reeves arrived at the hospital.

The incorrect information was then put on the operating theatre list - even though his case notes and consent form had the correct information.

Consultant Mr Roberts who was overseeing the operation said he was going to check the case notes.

But the prosecution claimed all that he did was glance at the admittance form which detailed the wrong kidney.

After it was obvious the blunder had happened, Mr Davies said Mr Roberts wrote in his notes: "Wrong kidney removed. X-rays checked sometime by me but still wrong procedure."

In another memo written later he wrote: "Did not check the notes," the court was told.

Mr Davies said: "Mr Reeves must have thought he was over the worst but Mr Roberts then explained that a mistake had been made."

Graham Reeves
Graham Reeves died after the operations

Mr Reeves, a Korean War veteran from Burry Port, then agreed to a second operation in which Mr Roberts tried to get the diseased kidney to work.

However after that operation Mr Reeves' condition deteriorated and he died on 1 March at Morriston Hospital in Swansea.

"The ultimate and over-riding duty to ensure the correct operation is performed rests with the operating surgeon and the supervising surgeon," he told the jury.

"They cannot delegate this awesome responsibility to others down the line.

"The organ grinder cannot blame the monkey. Their duty is to ensure the correct operation is performed and the buck stops with them."

"These defendants breached this high duty of making sure that the correct side of Mr Reeves was operated on, " he said.

The trial continues.

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Hywel Griffith
"Yesterday the two surgeons involved appeared at Cardiff Crown Court.

Where I Live, South West Wales
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