A 31-year-old woman has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit after “needlessly” donating her kidney to her grandmother, who died from cancer 11 months later, per Waco Tribune-Herald.
According to the August 9, 2014, article, the older woman went to the hospital in 2012 because she was suffering from headaches and high blood pressure. She underwent a CAT scan, and the radiologist “noted ‘temporal bone irregularities,’ and said ‘it would be difficult to exclude metastatic disease or multiple myeloma,’ according to the lawsuit.”
About two weeks later, the kidney transplant was performed. One year after the CAT scan, she died at age 66. Her granddaughter’s lawsuit alleges that the defendant doctor neglected to review the CAT scan and that the surgery was unnecessary “because at the time of the transplant, her grandmother was suffering from terminal cancer in the form of multiple myeloma.”
The plaintiff is seeking reimbursement for economic damages such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and impairment as well as noneconomic damages for mental anguish.
What Is Multiple Myeloma?
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation defines the disease as “the second most common blood cancer,” which develops in bone marrow’s plasma cells (white blood cells) and “typically occurs in bone marrow with the most activity, which is the marrow in the spine, pelvic bones, ribs, and area of the shoulders and hips.”
According to MMRF, in a patient with multiple myeloma, normal plasma cells turn malignant, divide at a rapid pace, and “crowd out and inhibit the production of normal blood cells and antibodies in the bone marrow.”
These malignant cells can also “invade the hard outer part of the bone and then spread into the cavities of the large bones in the body and form a tumor. When only one tumor is formed, it is called a solitary plasmacytoma. When multiple small tumors are formed, the disease is multiple myeloma.” This damage can be seen via X-ray.
Since multiple myeloma, or MM, affects the production of red and white blood cells, infection, anemia, and blood clotting issues may result. Also, MM produces M protein. As MMRF states, this excess M protein can overwork the kidneys and lead to kidney failure.
Multiple Myeloma Symptoms
Mayo Clinic says multiple myeloma symptoms vary from patient to patient, but the longer the patient has the disease, the more likely it is that he or she will develop kidney failure, bone pain or fractures, anemia-related fatigue, which can even cause dizziness or shortness of breath, per Everyday Health, or elevated calcium levels that result in excessive thirst, loss of appetite, nausea, constipation, and confusion.
With regard to the latter, Everyday Health says, “Weakened bones release calcium into the bloodstream, resulting in a condition known as hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium in the blood). This can lead to symptoms such as weakness, mental confusion, thirst, loss of appetite, fatigue, and constipation. This condition can eventually lead to coma if it is not treated.”
Some patients may develop numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands and feet or pain and numbness in the fingers and toes during cold weather, per MMRF. But some may experience no symptoms at all. For this reason, myeloma is often misdiagnosed at its onset, according to MM Hope.
One doctor told Everyday Health that multiple myeloma is usually diagnosed in one of two ways. The first is when a patient suddenly develops severe back pain when he or she never had it before. The second is when a patient who gets his or her blood tested each year learns of an elevated total protein level.
August 15, 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that former Goldman Sachs lead director James Schiro died from the disease at age 68. He retired from the board in July to undergo treatment.