Arzinger has successfully represented the interests of Lyudmyla Ivanivna Mayboroda before the European Court of Human Rights in the Mayboroda versus Ukraine case, on a pro bono basis.
Accordin to Arzinger, “in 2000, the applicant was admitted to hospital with complaints about her health. Doctors found that the cause could be internal bleeding. To stop it, the doctors suggested that the applicant undergo surgery to eliminate the causes and consequences of the bleeding, which, with the applicant's consent, was performed. Later, the applicant was discharged from hospital and given medical documents with no record of the organ removal.”
According to the firm, the doctors forgot “minor details: first informing the applicant about (obtaining her consent for) the kidney removal surgery, and about the removal itself after the surgery.” Subsequently, “the doctors were exposed in an anonymous call – the applicant was informed that her left kidney had been stolen.” Additionally, Arzinger outlines that the “doctors ignored the applicant's calls urging them to explain what had happened and why she had lost a healthy (in her opinion) organ. The doctors said that the kidney had to be removed and they were going to inform the applicant about it at her next appointment after some time (six months). Six months later, the applicant's medical records were corrected.”
As the firm explains it, the hospital sought to shift blame away from the doctors: “it's all about Soviet legislation. The management of the hospital replied to the request of the prosecutor's office that there was no Ukrainian law that the doctors had violated. The doctors were guided by the old principles of the Soviet legislation (1970), and it was ethical not to inform about the kidney removal, because such a message could affect the patient's emotional state. As a matter of fact, the Ukrainian Medical Society in Lviv supported the doctors' decision and the patient's being not informed about the removal of her kidney (a separate issue of alleged 'medical' solidarity).”
Furthermore, “the criminal proceedings were closed. There was no full-fledged investigation, and the case was formally closed. The prosecutors did not find a single document that would establish the scope of the doctors' authority to practice and issue official medical documents. Thus, since the statement was filled out by doctors who were not officially employed with the hospital, such a statement was not an official document at all. Regarding the episode with the removal of the kidney (possibly for sale on the black market), the prosecutor found no grounds to institute proceedings (as numerous medical commissions confirmed that the kidney was removed to save the patient's life).”
As for the civil case, Arzinger reports that “the consultant physician (physiologist), who was supposed to inform the applicant about the removal of her kidney, was partially guilty. Therefore, the courts awarded the applicant UAH 50,000 (to be paid by the consulting physician for failure to notify her of the kidney removal) and denied recovery of damages from the surgeon.”
Finally, the ECHR, “more than 23 years after the operation, 16 years after the application was filed, and seven years after the applicant's death – found that there had been a violation of Article 8 (Right to respect for private and family life) of the Convention in respect of protecting the applicant’s right to informed consent and that the authorities failed to verify whether it was possible to obtain consent for the removal of the kidney from Ms. Mayboroda before the operation, or from her relatives during the operation, and that the State had not established an adequate legal framework to protect [the patient's] right to informed consent.”
Arzinger’s team included Founding Partner Serhii Shkliar and Attorneys at Law Pavlo Khodakovskyi and Kateryna Shapran.