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Doctors Wrongly Remove Grandmother’s Kidneys Over Misdiagnosis. She Found a Donor, But Ran Out of Time

Linda Woolley
Screenshot/KDVR

Months before Linda Woolley’s surgery, a test revealed she didn’t have cancer. But the doctors removed her kidneys anyway.

As KDVR reports, last year, the 73-year-old grandmother from Englewood, Colorado was told she had cancer and needed her kidneys removed. In March 2018, Woolley had a biopsy which should have been good news. It reported, “no evidence of malignancy.”

However, doctors insisted that surgery was necessary because the pathology reports indicated that she probably had kidney cancer. So in May 2018, Woolley had both her kidneys removed. After the procedure, another biopsy was performed. The test established that there was no evidence of any cancer in Woolley’s kidneys.

As Woolley told KDVR, removing her kidneys was simply “a big mistake” on the part of the University of Colorado Hospital.

And it was a mistake with lasting consequences. Woolley had to begin dialysis, going to the hospital for four-hour treatments three times a week.

“I was not real happy,” she told KDVR. “My life was totally changed. Dialysis is no picnic no matter how used to it you get, it robs you of your life.”

After hearing her story, several people volunteered to donate a kidney to Woolley, including her youngest daughter, Heidi Haines. However, Woolley still had to go through the necessary medical tests before she was eligible for a transplant.

In the meantime, her health continued to deteriorate, not helped by the loss of both kidneys. When asked if she felt the hospital owed her an apology, Woolley told the KDVR reporter, “I feel like they owe me a kidney, that’s for sure.”

Next week, Woolley was scheduled for a stress test — one of the last tests needed to become eligible for a transplant. However, before she had the chance to get a new kidney, she went into cardiac arrest. Woolley died on February 1.

Her daughter, Jodi Fournier, told KDVR that her mother would still be alive if her kidneys hadn’t been wrongly removed:

“There’s a few things the kidneys regulate, one of them being potassium.  And when you don’t have [kidneys], you have the dialysis that removes those toxins in your  body. Her [potassium] levels were twice what they should’ve been and that ultimately caused the cardiac arrest.”

Haines told KDVR how difficult it is for the family to come to terms with Woolley’s death:

“It was bad enough when she was here and she was miserable, but [at least] she was here.”

For Haines, who was waiting for the chance to donate a kidney to her mother, it was especially hard:

“I thought I was going to be able to fix it and now I won`t get the chance.”

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral expenses.

Woolley had been suing the hospital for malpractice at the time of her death. Though the hospital expressed condolences to her family, they did not comment on why doctors believed Woolley had cancer and removed her kidneys.

The grandmother was still waiting for an explanation from the hospital when she died. As she told KDVR, “It is terrifying because you have no choice when you go into a hospital. You trust that you`re going to be taken care of.”

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  1. Her potassium was twice what it should be because she didn’t stop putting it in her body. Dialysis patients require a pretty ridged diet, on top of everything else they deal with, and potassium is in more food than you think. Poor woman, shameful situation.

  2. Every hospital and every medical professional involved needs to be accountable for the mistakes they made in this patient’s case and need to have their licenses suspended until a thorough investigation is done.
    This is sickening to learn of all the mistakes made and there is lots of them.

  3. I hope the family sues the dr & the hospital! The dr is responsible for the mistake & the hospital should have checked to make sure the surgery was really necessary!

  4. What a horrific and disgusting thing to happen to that poor woman and her family. I suppose that supports getting a second opinion but how do you do that once you are in the hospital?? Sadly the only recourse is to sue. And it doesn’t bring grams back of course. All the medical peeps involved should be ashamed.

    If the government takes over U.S. medicine……..can you even imagine???

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