The transplant was intended for another patient with the same name and of a similar age, officials of the hospital said.
The hospital subsequently rectified the mistake and both patients are doing well now, said the authorities of Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden on Tuesday.
The mistake was discovered a day after the transplant procedure. The hospital called it an ‘unprecedented event’.
“Mistakes of this magnitude are rare,” Reginald Blaber, executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Virtua Health, said in the statement. “And despite the unusual circumstances of similar patient identities, additional verification would have prevented this error.”
A member of the hospital's clinical team realised a day after the first transplant on Nov 18 that the 51-year-old received the kidney out of priority order, as they were lower on the transplant matching list, which is managed by the United Network for Organ Sharing.
About 113,000 people are on a waiting list for an organ transplant, with nearly 95,000 of them waiting for kidneys, according to the organisation's website.
The patient who was supposed to receive the initial kidney received another one about a week later.
The hospital has not identified the patients.
“As an organisation committed to safety and process, we immediately instituted additional measures and educational reinforcement to help ensure this does not happen again,” Blaber said.
Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital is the only facility in southern New Jersey to provide kidney, liver and pancreas transplants, according to their website.