Widow says husband would still be alive if 'certain things had not happened' at Memorial Hermann

Jessica Willey Image
Thursday, April 25, 2024
Widow says husband would be alive if 'certain things had not happened'
A Houston woman is left wondering if her husband would still be alive had he not been accepted into Memorial Hermann's transplant program.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The legal troubles are growing for Memorial Hermann Hospital and the doctor in charge of the hospital's liver and kidney transplant programs.

Three families, represented by the Hastings Law Firm, have filed for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Dr. J. Steve Bynon "in order to prevent him from deleting or destroying" evidence related to the transplant program scandal and Wednesday, ABC13 spoke to a widow who plans to sue.

Bynon is accused of manipulating patient data, as first reported by The New York Times. The programs have been shut down by the hospital, citing "irregularities."

"I would have never thought someone in that position would do something like that because we trust them to do the right thing," Melanie Crowel said.

Her husband, Ron Crowel, who had lived with non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver for six years, was accepted into Memorial Hermann's transplant program in 2021 under the supervision of Bynon.

But Ron Crowel's turn never came. He got sicker and sicker, Melanie said. He died on March 1, 2024.

SEE ALSO: Family says they weren't notified when transplant program was suspended: 'We trusted the doctors'

"Do you think your husband could still be alive today?" reporter Jessica Willey asked.

"I do. I do believe that if certain things had not happened," Melanie said. "I'm wondering if my husband had gotten a liver if he were somewhere else or hadn't been in contact with that doctor."

"The helplessness to find out this happened is beyond my imagination," her attorney, Sean Tracey, said, calling the allegations "a medical horror story."

The hospital has said they are investigating and cooperating with all regulatory authorities. Melanie hopes a lawsuit will uncover the truth. She and Ron, who was the director of security for Lakewood Church, had been married for 14 years and thought their prayers had been answered when he was accepted into the transplant program.

"I really thought he was going to get a new liver, and we wouldn't have to worry about that," she said. "He was my soul mate and my life will never be the same."

Memorial Hermann sent the following statement:

"Based on our investigation, which is still ongoing, we can confirm inappropriate changes to the donor acceptance criteria within the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) transplant information database by a single physician for some patients awaiting a liver transplant. "Donor acceptance criteria" refers to factors such as the age and weight of deceased donors whose livers are being made available for transplant. Upon learning of this inappropriate activity, we immediately began an investigation, and chose to voluntarily inactivate our liver transplant program. These inappropriate changes to the donor acceptance criteria are limited to the liver transplant program and did not impact any other transplant program.

We are actively working with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston) to make the necessary changes that will allow for the quick reactivation of the kidney/pancreas transplant program under a different physician leadership structure. We are hopeful that the kidney/pancreas transplant program will reopen in the near future.
Memorial Hermann has voluntarily inactivated the liver transplant program. There currently is no timeframe for the reopening of this program. All liver transplant patients have been transferred to another transplant program.

The vast majority of patients in the kidney/pancreas transplant program have opted to remain with us. Sixty (60) kidney patients are in the process of actively being transferred to another transplant program.

Our investigation is ongoing, and we continue to cooperate with all regulatory authorities. Our primary priority is ensuring continuity of compassionate care for patients who were on the transplant program lists at the hospital."

A hearing on the TRO is scheduled for Thursday morning.

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