Health

Donor suing Stanford Blood Center after infection

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Peninsula man is suing the Stanford Blood Center, claiming he suffered a life threatening infection after donating blood. Stanford is fighting the suit-- insisting that it's nearly impossible to get the type of infection he has from a blood donation.

Christopher Bui was a regular blood donor at Stanford. He donated six times a year, the maximum you're allowed. Bui says not only was he infected after donating blood four years ago, but some of his blood was not going where he thought it was.

On April 10, 2008 Bui went to the Stanford Blood Center. Bui says after donating blood, he experienced searing pain in his arm and shoulder.

"Three weeks later, it had blossomed into a full blown bone infection," he said. "And I had surgery on May 6 and May 9 of 2008 to remove part of my collar bone."

Stanford paid his medical bills, which Bui says cost close to $100,000.

"They know that they caused it; they promised to pay for it and they did pay a lot of money, they paid for the surgery but then after that they started sending me bills," Bui said.

Bui says Stanford stopped paying his post-op bills, which could continue for a long time. He was never told why. Bui expects to have more surgery and says he still has pain and complications resulting from the bone damage, called osteomyelitis.

Bui ended up suing Stanford, its hospital and blood center.

Stanford declined a request for an interview, deciding instead to respond with a written statement, saying the lawsuit has no merit. The blood center said it "uses single-use needles, prepackaged in a sterile container..." and that Bui's "type of infection ... is extremely rare, and to our knowledge has never been associated with a blood donation." Stanford added, "The center complies strictly with FDA safety regulations."

Bui's lawyer Joe Carcione says they discovered the blood center had sold some of his blood to Genentech for research. He says after digging further, they uncovered documents revealing that the center was selling donor blood to research firms on a regular basis.

"The crux of the lawsuit is that Stanford Blood Center misrepresents what they do with people's blood and misrepresents the fact that they make a lot of money arising out of your blood donation," Carcione said.

"It was like getting kicked in the stomach," Bui said.

Bui says the revelation was shocking. He says he began donating blood to Stanford 20 years ago, after being told there was a "critical need" for his unique blood type.

"I'm a CMV negative donor and CMV negative means that my blood gets to be used for premature infants and auto immune deficient patients; so from the beginning, that's where I was told my blood went," he said.

Bui showed ABC7 News a letter from the blood center, telling him just how much his blood was needed to make a difference in children's lives. Nowhere in the letter was there a mention of using it for research or making a profit.

"I was told my blood's going... and I would get these emails and these letters and they would show stories of children whose lives were being saved or helped with my blood and so I just felt betrayed," Bui said.

Stanford's statement did not respond directly to Bui's charges, but it said the costs associated with operating its non-profit blood center come from the sale of blood products and services to hospitals and research centers and that "all revenues are used to support the charitable purposes of the blood center or the school of medicine."

Bui is suing Stanford for medical negligence, fraud, misrepresentation and breach of contract. The trial is set for April of next year.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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stanford university, lawsuit, health, vic lee
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