A Staten Island judge last week threw out a medical malpractice claim brought by a Jehovah's Witness, whose life was saved with a blood transfusion her religion does not allow. The judge claimed this was a case of "wrongful life," which holds no merit for damages under tort law.
Nancy DiGeronimo, 41, signed up with Dr. Allen Fuchs at Staten Island University Hospital, for the express purpose of receiving autologous blood transfusion, or blood from her own body. This is as opposed to allogenic blood transfusion, which is blood from other donors' bodies. She even signed a health-care proxy stating as much back in 1995. However, Ms. DiGeronimo was never advised to store any of her blood and she could not do so by the time of her pregnancy in 2003.
In April 2004, Ms. DiGeronimo entered the hospital with vaginal bleeding and early labor. She was given medicine to fight infection and to assist vaginal delivery. A health boy was born, but the mother continued hemorrhaging, while her blood could not be salvaged due to an infection. In the face of certain death, she nodded her approval to receive allogenic blood, while her husband authorized the paperwork on his wife's behalf. She claims to not remember any of this.
Ms. DiGeronimo's expert physician claims that a caesarean section would have prevented the hemorrhaging, while Dr. Fuchs' expert physician contended there was no indication that a C-section was necessary at the time.
Staten Island Supreme Court Justice Joseph Maltese dismissed the case, which began in 2006, by stating that, "There is no departure from good and acceptable medical care and there is no proximate cause of a legally recognized injury" in this case.
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