Former patient of doctor under investigation says she now suffers kidney failure

Patient: surgery caused permanent complications

DENVER - Lisa Kidwell says she is in the beginning stages of kidney failure because of her surgeon. Dr. Warren Kortz, who is now under investigation by the state medical board for reportedly botching 11 different surgeries between 2008 and 2010, operated on Kidwell in 2009.

The State Medical Board filed the formal complaint for 14 charges of unprofessional conduct earlier this month, citing the 11 surgeries. A judge will review that complaint in May and decide then whether or not to revoke Dr. Kortz's license.

Kidwell is not part of that complaint but contacted 7NEWS after she heard about it. She had her kidney removed at Porter Adventist Hospital April 10th, 2009. Her surgeon Dr. Kortz removed the kidney using the DaVinci robot. The kidney was then given to her younger brother Adam.

Since that surgery, Kidwell said she has suffered short- and long-term complications. She developed two fluid pockets, one in her stomach and one where her kidney was removed.

"It literally protruded from my body, it was hard and it didn't move. All they [the doctors] could tell us was it was a fluid pocket," Kidwell said. "We asked them to test it and they wouldn't."

Kidwell was hospitalized for nearly a month after the surgery; the typical recovery is three to five days. She suffered severe pain the entire time she said. She also said she suffered nerve damage in both her back and neck and has severe migraines.

She now sees a nephrologist - a physician who specializes in kidney disease, neurologist and physical therapist. She has to take pain medication as soon as she wakes up to get through the day, and she says she's now in the beginning stages of kidney failure.

"You go from being completely healthy and then saving my brother's life... then all of the sudden your entire world is changed," Kidwell said. "You're living on medicine just to make sure you can function."

Dr. Kortz faces two separate lawsuits from other patients.7NEWS contacted Dr. Kortz's attorneys. They released this statement regarding the lawsuit.

On behalf of Dr. Kortz, we acknowledge that there is lawsuit filed by the Lechugas and that Plaintiffs claim that the care involved robotic surgery.  What should be noted is that the complication that occurred had nothing to do with robotics.  The patient did suffer a complication during surgery.  However, she was advised of the possible complications prior to surgery and consented to the risks of surgery.  We are defending his care in the Lechuga case because it was reasonable and appropriate.   Beyond that, because we believe it is not appropriate to try any case in the press, we are unable to comment further.

Dr. Kortz is a very experienced and excellent surgeon who has helped many Coloradans over his lengthy career.  The attorney representing the Lechugas filed three complaints against Dr. Kortz with the Medical Board and, in our opinion, is seeking to use the Board matter to gain advantage or force a settlement in the civil case.  These tactics, in our view, are inappropriate and will prove to be unsuccessful.

Dr. Kortz has a separate attorney for the complaint filed by the medical board. As of this story, 7NEWS had contacted that attorney but not heard back.

Dr. Kortz still has his medical license. He is a physician at SurgOne and still operates at Porter Adventist Hospital. The hospital put Dr. Kortz on "precautionary suspension" in July 2010 for further training on the robot.

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