Heart Failure: The David Kveton Story
A year after a failed heart transplant at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center resulted in her 64-year-old husband’s (David Kveton) death, Judy Kveton received a letter in March 2017 by an anonymous individual, claiming that the hospital is known for some of the worst heart transplant results in the United States and Dr. Jeffrey Morgan—the lead surgeon—was allowed to continue operating on patients despite frequent mishaps and warnings about his incompetence.
Last month, Judy and her adult children filed a lawsuit against the hospital and associated medical school last month in Harris County District Court, citing the anonymous letter, expert review of David’s medical records, and a ProPublica and Houston Chronicle investigation.
In the lawsuit, she claimed that her husband died back in January 2017 due to errors by doctors from Baylor College from Medicine and nurses from St. Luke’s Medical Center during and after his transplant, and accused the hospital of falsely marketing its “successful” heart transplant program. Furthermore, hospital administrators should’ve stopped Dr. Morgan from performing surgeries after receiving performance complaints.
According to the investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle, St. Luke’s has experienced a high rate of fatalities and abnormal compilations after heart procedures. Many doctors have left the heart program and even addressed their concerns about Dr. Morgan. In fact, two cardiologists were so worried they started referring patients to other hospitals to receive transplants.
About a year after Dr. Morgan became surgical director of the heart program, he performed David’s heart transplant. The lawsuit says David’s new heart was experiencing issues since the lead surgeon and his team took too long to implant the heart since the organ was left on ice for over four hours, creating a graft failure risk. Dr. Morgan failed to disclose the issue when speaking with family members after surgery.
In addition, a nurse turned David in bed, even though he had an open chest. This resulted in the detachment of pacing wires from his new heart, causing a substantial drop in his blood pressure. What made it worse was the failure of connecting backup pacing wires to the heart, which violated the standard of care. After suffering several strokes—which the family was not told about—loved ones decide to take David off life support a week after surgery.
A couple of weeks after the investigation was published, the hospital experienced two more patient fatalities and suspended the heart program. Then after changes in policy and staff, the program was reopened two weeks later. In October, the hospital replaced Dr. Morgan as surgical director.
St. Luke’s Medical Center has denied the allegations made by the Kveton family. While Dr. Morgan is not named in the lawsuit, he declined to comment.