Surgeon removed as Memorial Hermann's liver, kidney transplant leader amid bombshell report

ByAlex Bozarjian, Shannon Ryan, and Matt Guillermo KTRK logo
Friday, April 12, 2024
Memorial Hermann patient wants to remain on transplant list amid investigation
UTHealth appears to defend Dr. Steve Bynon a day after the New York Times identified him as the surgeon under investigation for alleged malfeasance.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Fallout is being felt in Houston's medical community on Friday after a bombshell New York Times report linked a prominent surgeon to alleged manipulation of Memorial Hermann's liver transplant program.

The Times identified Dr. J. Steve Bynon Jr. as the surgeon under investigation after the hospital system's Texas Medical Center flagship publicized irregularities with "donor acceptance criteria," which Memorial Hermann confirmed Friday. The Times couldn't report on what may have motivated the alleged malfeasance.

The video above is from a previous story.

The hospital system also added that Bynon will no longer oversee the liver and kidney transplant program amid an investigation into "inappropriate activity."

PREVIOUS STORY: Memorial Hermann surgeon secretly denied patients of life-saving transplants, NYT reports

Memorial Hermann said it voluntarily inactivated both the liver and kidney transplant programs despite irregularities found in the liver program, citing common leadership ties.

Meanwhile, UTHealth, which could only confirm being Bynon's employer, appeared to tout his successes while also saying that he and other staffers are assisting with the investigation.

A statement released on Friday read:

"Dr. Steve Bynon is an exceptionally talented and caring physician and a pioneer in abdominal organ transplantation. According to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, Bynon's survival rates and surgical outcomes are among the best in the nation, even while treating patients with higher-than-average acuity and disease complexity. UTHealth Houston is proud of the many contributions Dr. Bynon and his team have made to our university, our academic and clinical transplant programs, and to the field of transplant medicine. Our faculty and staff members, including Dr. Bynon, are assisting with the inquiry into Memorial Hermann's liver transplant program and are committed to addressing and resolving any findings identified by this process."

The Times reached out to Bynon on Thursday, who directed questions to UTHealth, which declined to comment. Eyewitness News has attempted to contact Bynon, including in person at his West University Place residence. So far, he has yet to offer a written or spoken public statement.

The Organ Procurement Transplantation Network showed 38 liver-transplant patients were on the list when the program halted. Another 346 patients were on the kidney list, the hospital added.

Patient defends surgeon

A woman who received a life-saving organ is praising the doctor who operated on her amid allegations that the surgeon secretly denied donations to potential recipients.

Despite the allegations, one previous organ recipient is backing Bynon.

Cindy Bradley traveled from Louisiana to Houston to get a new liver.

She said Dr. Bynon performed the transplant surgery on April 17, 2022.

"I said I feel like a new person," Bradley said after the surgery. "And I did. - I walked, and I haven't stopped since. That donor and that doctor saved my life."

Bradley said she just had her six-month check-in with Dr. Bynon last month. She was told her appointments would not need to be rescheduled.

"I can't see him doing anything unethical for any reason, be it numbers or his own accolades," Bradley said.

According to his About Me page on the Memorial Herman website, Dr. Bynon started his career at the University of Alabama-Birgmingham.

There, he led the liver and pediatric transplant programs for 17 years.

In 2011, he joined UTHealth in Houston, signing on as the director of the Division of Immunology and Solid Organ Transplantation.

Editor's note: A previous edition of this story erroneously reported Bynon had been suspended by UTHealth.

ABC13 is working on uncovering the latest developments rocking the Texas Medical Center, including putting patients' tales and feelings front and center. Watch Eyewitness News broadcasts for those stories.