An Iowa woman is suing a South Dakota surgeon and his practice for wrongfully removing one of her kidneys, USA Today reports.

On October 5, 2016, Iowa resident Dena Knapp was scheduled to have a mass on her adrenal gland removed, but her surgeon, Dr. Scott Baker, removed her kidney instead. While the pathology department at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota informed Knapp of the critical error her surgeon made a little later that same day, Dr. Baker insisted that he had yet to hear back from the pathology department nearly two days later on October 7, 2016.

According to her lawsuit, Baker did not reach out to or contact Knapp to personally inform her about the surgical mishap until October 11. During the phone call, Baker told her that he “did not get everything,” noting that the mass on her adrenal gland had still not been removed and suggested that she undergo a second operation.

While Knapp did end up scheduling a second surgery to remove the mass, this time she made her appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where both her adrenal gland and its mass were finally removed. “They actually verified that the full adrenal gland as well as the mass was still in tact and still inside, but that the kidney alone is what was removed,” she said.

On Wednesday, the executive director for The Surgical Institute of South Dakota, Mark Hatting, claimed that he had never been aware of the complaint Knapp had previously filed and therefore could provide no comment on the matter. Because Baker is a partner at the Surgical Institute, Hatting was also named a defendant in the lawsuit.

The complaint that Knapp filed in federal court states that Dr. Baker’s botched surgery directly caused an “incurable and progressive kidney disease in her remaining kidney,” giving her symptoms of pain, fatigue, mental distress, and depression.


Christopher Furlong


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“Since the erroneous surgery,” the lawsuit adds, “Dena has been unable to perform many functions and has required replacement services to clean and maintain her home, the past and future cost of which is yet to be determined.” The lawsuit also claims that Knapp has spent at least $96,000 in medical expenses related to her progressive kidney disease and has subsequently lost around $42,000 worth of her earnings.

“It’s very difficult at times because being as active and outgoing and social as I was I haven’t been able to enjoy the family activities or doing things for myself…mowing the yard or doing some of the housework,” Knapp said.

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