Health inspectors in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho are investigating doctors at a local hospital who allegedly removed two kidneys from a patient without her permission, putting her life at imminent risk.
On Saturday, the Can Tho City Health Department received a complaint from the family of Hua Cam Tu, 37, who had both her kidneys removed by doctors at the Can Tho General Hospital.
Tu was admitted to the hospital on December 1 to treat her water-congested left kidney. Her right kidney was normal and functioning properly.
On Tuesday, Dec 6, a group of doctors led by Dr Tran Van Nguyen performed a key-hole surgery to remove water from her left kidney.
Tri said he had signed a document in which he gave permission for the hospital to perform the key-hole surgery on his wife.
The document allowed the doctors to remove the life kidney in a worst case scenario. The right kidney was to be kept intact.
Two hours after the surgery, Tu's family was told that the surgery was successful.
However, Tu's body swelled up the following day. Nguyen Thien Tri, Tu's husband, said a subsequent ultrasound scan showed that Tu had no kidney left.
After Tri asked the doctors about the "missing kidney," Dr Nguyen told him that doctors were forced to remove Tu's right kidney due to an unexpected situation in the operation.
"During the operation, Tu bled a lot. She had a rare condition in which the nerves of her kidneys stick together so it was impossible to stop the bleeding," Nguyen said.
"It was life-threatening so we were forced to remove her right kidney to save her," he explained.
There was no information on why the doctors did not inform the patient and her family of what had happened and why they had declared the operation a success. It is also not clear whether Tu's life can be saved at this point.
Her condition is getting worse, Tri said, adding she could not lie down or eat and her body is badly swollen.
According to the Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper, on Saturday afternoon, Tri asked the hospital to provide free-of-charge dialysis treatment for his wife and the hospital accepted the request "with reluctance."
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted a health expert as saying a person without two kidneys can only survive if dialysis treatment is provided for the rest of their life, or if they are lucky to have kidney transplant.
Experts also say that the life expectancy of person is reduced considerably when she or he loses both kidneys.