Surgeon charged for organ donor error

Carina Melchior recovered from a coma after her parents had already agreed to donate her organs. The responsible neurosurgeon is now facing criminal charges

A neurosurgeon is being charged with dereliction of duties after he prematurely asked a family to donate their daughter’s organs.

The surgeon at Aarhus Kommunehospital told Carina Melchior’s family that she wouldn’t survive the internal injuries suffered in a car crash and her family agreed to donate her organs.

Melchior miraculously woke up from her coma several days later – even though doctors had turned off her life support machines – and she is now undergoing rehabilitation.

Refused to die
The story was caught on camera by a film crew and turned into the enormously popular documentary 'Pigen der ikke ville dø' (The girl who refused to die) that was broadcast on DR last year.

The chief neurosurgeon at the Copenhagen hospital Rigshospital, Vagn Eskesen, submitted a report in May condemning Melchior’s treatment and the decision to recommend organ donation before it was clear that she would die.

The patients' complaints agency, Patientombuddet, has now asked the government’s legal medical council, Retslægerådet, to investigate the case.

READ MORE: Documentary stirs debate on organ donation

Delayed investigation
Retslægerådet’s verdict is delayed because all the leading experts in the field bar one cannot contribute because of conflicts of interest, such as either working at the same hospital or having worked with the charged doctor.

Their report is due in under a month, but the statute of limitations expires on Wednesday, which is why Aarhus Police have chosen to raise charges now.

“We definitely have enough evidence to raise charges against the doctor, but we are missing further information to assess whether we can take him to court,” police spokesperson Morten Holm told DR Nyheder.

According to Melchior's lawyer, she will receive 552,000 kroner in compensation due to the surgeon's error in the case.