06/22/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, USA // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan

Orlando, FL—A woman who alleges she was infected with HIV after undergoing a botched kidney transplant filed suit against Lee Memorial Health Systems. While the plaintiff contends the hospital system was neglectful, Lee Memorial maintains it did not deviate from the standard of care, according to information provided by NBC-2 on Monday, June 21, 2010.

“Everybody in dialysis waits and dreams when you get the call that says we got a kidney for you. But the greatest gift is to get a live kidney from a donor,” the 55-year-old plaintiff, Karen Cruz, said.

However, when Cruz reported to Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center on August 29, 2007 to undergo the long-awaited transplant, she never could have imagined the price she would have to pay.

Based on lab work obtained by Cruz’s medical malpractice attorney, the donor’s blood was tested for HIV and other blood-borne diseases on August 14, 2007. Though the test results came back positive on August 24, doctors went on perform the transplant nonetheless.

In late 2009, Cruz apparently received a crucial phone call from her attorney. In that conversation, the lawyer explained that based on the test results, the donor was infected with HIV, thus prompting Cruz to undergo her own set of tests. She too tested positive for HIV.

The kidney apparently originated from an unidentified, yet trusted family member who was unaware that he/she had HIV at the time.

“I have not been able to enjoy not one minute of life since I got off that operating table. I have been so sick, it’s unreal… It makes it very difficult to trust any doctor for me. I would have to be on my deathbed to say yes to any surgery today.” Cruz reportedly consumes 20 pills a day, just to stay alive.

Lee Memorial Health Systems claimed, “Despite the allegations in the complaint, the services provided were appropriate and met the standards of care.”

Betsy Edwards of LifeLink, a non-profit transplantation advocacy group, also stated, “We don’t want this to deter anybody from still signing up to become an organ and tissue donor. Everyone should still consider themselves a donor, whether that be from living donation or after they’ve passed away from deceased donation.”

Cruz is seeking damages to cover her current and future health care costs. However, her medical expenses seem to exceed $100,000. The state of Florida caps medical malpractice compensation from hospitals at $100,000.

Beyond monetary damages, Cruz hopes the lawsuit will increase the level of safety with regard to organ transplants.

Legal News Reporter: Sandra Quinlan- Legal News for Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyers.

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