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Couple's Kidney Transplant Imperiled by Test


SAN DIEGO — A kidney transplant operation involving two newlyweds was postponed Wednesday when a radiologist performing a routine test on the Mission Viejo donor nicked an artery in her left kidney, imperiling her ability to donate either kidney to her husband.

A Sharp Memorial Hospital official said there is a chance the organ transplant may be canceled as a result of the injury to 45-year-old Victoria Ingram-Curlee, who was scheduled to donate her right kidney Wednesday to Randall Curlee, 46, a gravely ill diabetic whom she had married in the hospital chapel 24 hours earlier.

Dr. Robert Mendez, renal transplantation director at Sharp Memorial, said she will need three to four weeks to heal before surgeons can determine whether she remains the almost-perfect donor for Curlee.

Mendez said Wednesday's events produced a 25% to 35% chance that Ingram-Curlee will not be able to donate either kidney to Curlee, who needs the new organ because of his advanced diabetes.

"I am very disappointed . . . (but) it's just a minor setback," Ingram-Curlee said. "I'll heal quickly and we'll proceed as planned.

The couple's unusual romance had captured the nation's imagination.

Mendez said the incident occurred during an "X-ray assessment" of Ingram-Curlee's left kidney, which doctors needed to evaluate before they could remove and transplant her right one.

The incident occurred during an arteriogram, a procedure designed to "assess the normalcy of the kidneys, the anatomy of the kidneys," Mendez said.

But when the radiologist--whom Mendez identified as Dr. Harold Coons--began his "routine preoperative procedure" at 8 a.m. Wednesday, 6 1/2 hours before surgery, he discovered that blood flowed through three arteries in Ingram-Curlee's left kidney, rather than the usual one, Mendez said.

Coons inserted a narrow catheter tube into the arteries in order to inject a dye that would help him evaluate how well blood flowed through those vessels, Mendez said.

"During the assessment of these arteries, a small accessory artery . . . was nicked, partially compromising the blood supply to a lower area of the kidney," Mendez said.

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