Kidney Transplant Due To Delay In Diagnosis Of Biliary Atresia
High six-figure recovery for an infant who had to undergo an early kidney transplant due to a delay in diagnosing biliary atresia. The child was eventually going to require a transplant anyway, but if the biliary atresia had been diagnosed sooner, the need for the transplant could have been delayed several years. Because of the "early" transplant, the child will be on anti-rejection medication for several extra years, and those drugs have potential side effects.
Biliary atresia is a congenital problem that a child can be born with, and it causes progressive liver damage over the course of several months. One of the first signs of biliary atresia is jaundice in the newborn child. Of course, jaundice is a common problem so when it occurs the best thing for the physician to do is to order blood work and see if the jaundice is being caused by something such as a liver problem. In this case, the child had signs of jaundice early on but the doctor was simply attributing it to the child's normal pigmentation. At a minimum, we argued that the doctor should have just taken the blood work, and had that been done he or she would have discovered that the child had a liver problem very early on. If biliary atresia is diagnosed within the first couple of months of life, a child can often have a surgery that avoids transplantation. In this case, however, by the time the biliary atresia was diagnosed, the liver was too damaged, and he had to undergo a transplant at eight months of age.
From a physical standpoint, children with a liver transplant can lead a fairly active and normal life. However, the big potential problem they face is side effects from the anti-rejection drugs, which they must be on for the rest of their life. These drugs tend to compromise or depress the immune system and, therefore, patients are much more susceptible to infections of all sorts. This is a particular problem for young people who are in a school environment where they are constantly in close contact with a variety of children, many of whom have periodic infections. The anti-rejection drugs are also very, very costly and, therefore, the family's medical expense was a big part of the claim in this case. Lastly, although it is very remote, anti-rejection drugs can increase a person's risk for certain types of cancer. Thus, while anti-rejection drugs have allowed organ transplant surgery to flourish, they are expensive and do carry some side effects, and those two things were the focus of our damage claim in this case.