Houston Doctor Denied Patients Liver and Kidney Transplants Who Later Died

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: Apr 23, 2024

After learning that a doctor changed medical records in order to get their patient a liver transplant, medical staff had no choice but to halt the surgical program all together. 

The Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical center said in a statement to press that altering medical records has caused the entire program to go under a thorough investigation.

Houston Hospital Under Fire

The Houston based medical center was recently under fire for postponing the much needed liver transplant program. So far, multiple intended recipients have passed away after not receiving the life-saving surgery. 

An aerial view of a large hospital with stone walls and a red roof next to a busy road

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Although just one doctor committed fraud in the form of changing medical records, the center was forced to halt all of their kidney and liver transplants for the time being in order to properly investigate the extent of the misconduct. 

Transplant Doctor Does Not Admit To Altering Files

The doctor under investigation, Dr. J. Steve Bynon Jr. is embroiled in the middle of the alleged fraud case. 

A large white and blue billboard advertising a surgeon and a medical school. The sign as text describing the doctor and the school and an etching of the doctor’s face

Source: @_cmosis/X

He’s been the lead of the abdominal transplant surgery program since 2011. The entire program had to be halted on April 3rd due to an investigation that uncovered “irregularities” in patient information plugged into their database. 

Massive Investigation Underway

As the irregularities can be indicative of massive fraud throughout the transplant department, multiple agencies are taking part in the investigation.

A man holds a pen and works on a document while surrounded by beakers with blue liquid

Source: ckstockphoto/Canva

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services along with the board of directors for the hospital are working together to decide the extent of the wrong-doing.

An Increase Mortality Rate for Patients

In recent years, the transplant department at the Texas based medical facility has had a sharp increase in the amount of liver patients dying who were waiting for life saving treatment. 

A medical professional holds a plastic syringe filled with red liquid while wearing gloves

Source: Vadym Terelyuk/Getty Images

According to the Organ Procurement Transplantation Network, almost 40 patients have died or become too sick to receive their liver transplants in the past four years. This number has raised alarm bells for the department.

Doctor Misconduct Could Be Related to the New Wave of Patient Deaths

Five deaths have been recorded so far in 2024 from patients waiting for liver or kidney transplants. 

A medical professional wears a cap, mask, blue scrubs, and gloves while holding an organ inside of a container

Source: @PulseGhana/X

These numbers are higher than the national average and hospital oversight might be to blame for the increased number of patient deaths. 


Unclear How Long the Program Will Remain Inactive

Authorities at the Memorial Hermann center have no idea how long the transplant program will remain halted to complete the investigation. 

A doctor wears a mask and a white coat while speaking with patients who are also wearing masks and semi-casual clothing and filling out information on clipboards

Source: @McGovernMed/X

Each of the patients currently waiting on the list will have time added to their wait when the surgery resumes. This means that while they will be credited for the time spent waiting for surgery according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. The nationwide connection for organ donation regulates strict rules that everyone on the list must adhere to. 


Hundreds of People Will Be Affected

During the closure, the hospital said that they are contacting the 38 patients waiting on the liver transplant list and 346 patients on the kidney transplant list who are currently under their care.

The outside of the Memorial Hermann medical building at night

Source: @NewsTrendz2024/X

It’s currently unknown if these patients will remain in care at Memorial Hermann or if they will seek care elsewhere. 


Waiting for Liver Transplants Can Be Deadly

Having an essential organ transplant put on hold indefinitely can prove deadly for many of the people on the waiting list.

A man and a woman hold hands

Source: National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

The liver serves many important functions in the body. When a person goes into liver failure, it’s critical that they receive a new liver as quickly as possible.


Where Do Donors Come From?

According to Johns Hopkins medicine, one of the leading institutions for transplants in the U.S., donors often come from newly deceased people. The ability to count on a new organ is slim due to the difficult nature of obtaining them. 

Two women look at a pamphlet while in a hospital room and wearing masks

Source: CDC/Unsplash

The list of people waiting for emergency organ donors spans the entire U.S., so when a new organ comes available, the person at the top of the list gets selected for the healthy organ. 


Doctor Could Have Been Favoring His Patients

One of the concerns at Memorial Hermann in Houstin is that the doctor in question could have been favoring his patients to climb to the top of the list. 

A doctor wears a plaid shirt, a white coat, and a blue stethoscope while looking at his cellphone

Source: National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

Doctors often sympathize with their patients and want to overcome these difficult hurdles, such as waiting for an organ while they watch their patients die.


New Leadership Will Take Place in Houston

While the hospital and other agencies work together to uncover the wrongdoings of Dr. Bynon Jr, new leadership is being selected.

An aerial view of the Memorial Hermann Institute in Texas, many buildings, roads, and a sky walk can be seen from above

Source: @robertpainter/X

It’s currently unclear if the doctor will face any disciplinary action, but he will certainly be replaced as the head of the donor program in Houston.