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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
'Shock' as wrong kidney removed
Surgeon John Roberts
Surgeon John Roberts had talked of "an appalling error"
A nurse who watched a patient having the wrong kidney removed has told a court how hospital staff were left "shocked" when the error was discovered.

Helen Walters was giving evidence in the trial of two surgeons accused of killing 70-year-old patient Graham Reeves as a result of a botched operation at Llanelli's Prince Philip Hospital.

Operation victim Graham Reeves
Graham Reeves: victim of a "fateful chain of events."

"The atmosphere was very quiet and subdued. Everyone was shocked," she told the jury at Cardiff Crown Court.

Consultant urologist John Roberts, 60, from Ty Coch, Swansea, and registrar Mahesh Goel, 40, from Burnley, Lancashire, both deny manslaughter.

Mrs Walters told the court Roberts was "devastated" after discovering the blunder.

Retired power station worker Mr Reeves underwent a second operation later the same day in an attempt to improve the condition of his remaining kidney.


During that procedure Mr Roberts was very professional.

Nurse Helen Walters
Mrs Walters said: "During that procedure Mr Roberts was very professional. It was very tense but Mr Roberts held things together."

Mr Reeves had gone into hospital for an operation to remove his diseased right kidney - and signed a consent form for that procedure.

But the jury heard a "fateful chain of events" led to the Mr Reeves healthy left kidney being marked down for removal on the operating list.

Mrs Walters said:"I would not have looked to see if it was a left or right-sided operation, because both would need the same equipment.

Dr Mahesh Chard Goel
Dr Mahesh Chard Goel performed the operation

"It was not my responsibility."

The day after the mistake, Mr Roberts told an internal hospital inquiry that he had made "an appalling error".

The court heard that Mr Goel had told police in interviews: "I assumed cross-checks had been done by my boss. But I accept that I should have checked as well."

Following surgery, Mr Reeves, of Burry Port, Carmarthenshire, was transferred to Morriston Hospital in Swansea for specialist dialysis.

He went on to develop septicaemia, and his condition deteriorated. The diseased kidney had to be removed, and he died at Morriston Hospital on 1 March, 2000.

The trial continues.


Where I Live, South West Wales
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