Two hospital workers were put on leave after giving a patient the wrong kidney in a transplant gone awry earlier this month.

The incident occurred at the University Hospitals in Cleveland.

A spokesman for the hospital said the healthcare facility has offered "our sincerest apologies to these patients and their families”.

"We recognize they entrusted us with their care. The situation is entirely inconsistent with our commitment to helping patients return to health and live life to the fullest," the spokesman said.

The hospital claimed that it will investigate the incident to determine what factors contributed to the mistake.

Luckily, the kidney that was given to the wrong patient was not rejected by the individual's body, so that person is expected to recover from the mix-up.

a building that has a sign on the side of a road: University Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, where a kidney was mistakenly transferred into the wrong patient. - Google Images

News 5 Cleveland reported that the hospital staff did not become aware of the mistake until they were in the middle of the operation.

The patient who was supposed to get the kidney has had their surgery delayed until another kidney is available. Officials did not say whether another kidney was readily available or not.

The mix-up not only potentially endangered the life of the patient who received the kidney by mistake, but also may force the intended recipient to wait for months or years for their next shot at getting a kidney.

Patients can wait between five and ten years, on average, for access to a kidney, according to data from UCLA Health. That wait can be mitigated somewhat if a family member or friend offers to donate one of their own kidneys.

Currently there are more than 100,000 people on the waiting list in the US.

Local broadcaster WKYC spoke with Heather Mekesa, whose organization finds organs for recipient in Northeast Ohio. She told the outlet that mix-ups like the one in Cleveland do not happen often.

"This is not the norm, I'd say 99.99 percent of the time, everything does go well. In the last two decades, this has not occurred in Ohio," she said. "This was a very unfortunate and not a great incident to occur but it shouldn't deter people who want to help others through the gift of organ donation."

Beyond its statement, the hospital has otherwise refused to speak with local reporters in Cleveland.