Thalassemia Malpractice Attorneys Advocating for Victims of Undiagnosed and Misdiagnosed Thalassemia and Other Genetic Blood Disorders in New Jersey
Certain blood disorders passed down from parents to their children can leave someone chronically tired and, in severe cases, very sick, needing frequent blood transfusions. Some babies born with deficient blood cells may even tragically die. Thalassemia is a genetic blood condition that strikes young children and adults later in life. Those with the disorder cannot produce enough hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in the red blood cells. When the body has insufficient or defective red blood cells, anemia results.
Mild anemia is characteristic of Thalassemia intermedia, while severe anemia and the complications accompanying it results from Thalassemia major. However, medical professionals categorize the disease by the affected protein or hemoglobin part, either alpha or beta. When the hemoglobin part called alpha is deficient, it is known as Alpha Thalassemia, and deficient beta is Beta Thalassemia. Three types of Thalassemia include Intermedia, Major, and trait and carrier. A carrier may have the genetic trait but not experience symptoms.
Consequences of Thalassemia for Infants and Children
While some people may experience mild or no symptoms, others with a severe form of Thalassemia major called Cooley’s anemia may experience developmental delays, organ dysfunction, or bone problems. When the disease’s effects typically occur in a child’s first two years of life, the child may grow slowly, have jaundice, and go through puberty later than other children when they have Cooley’s, a more severe form of Thalassemia. They may appear pale, lethargic, and uninterested in food. Some fetuses and newborns die from it before or at birth.
Those with mild to moderate anemia may experience the effects of a low blood cell count. As a result, they may have symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, pale skin, dizziness, cold hands and feet, headaches, trouble concentrating, abdominal swelling, leg cramps, dark urine, or chest pain. Red blood cell depletion may cause a Thalassemia sufferer’s bones to expand and thin due to cell overproduction in the bone marrow. The spleen, too, can enlarge in efforts to make more blood cells, which can cause an individual with Thalassemia to be more susceptible to infection. The spleen functions as a blood filter and infection fighter, so it cannot do its job well when it is overworked.
Prognosis for Thalassemia Sufferers
A bone marrow transplant is sometimes necessary since red blood cells form in the bone marrow. However, the challenge is finding enough suitable bone marrow donors for transplants. And while blood transfusions and antibiotics typically help protect children from the effects of thalassemia major, they also result in too much iron in the blood, requiring chelators that leech iron to avoid organ damage. Some hope for sufferers may be on the horizon with gene therapy that replaces defective genes with normal ones in their stem cells or drug therapies to promote fetal and newborn red blood cell production. For now, however, curing the disease is unlikely for most. Thalassemia victims must live with the condition, enduring frequent blood transfusions, chelation, antibiotic therapy, and continual medical care, all of which are costly. Those with Thalassemia Major survive by undergoing periodic blood transfusions and close monitoring of the affected organs, such as the liver, spleen, and heart. And without enough oxygenated blood, bones thin and dry up. Thus, careful monitoring and blood transfusion avoid fatal organ failure and infection.
Prenatal Diagnosis of Thalassemia through Genetic Testing
Since Thalassemia affects specific populations more than others, such as those from Italian, Middle Eastern, Greek, African, and Southern Asian background, a physician must be aware of their patient’s profile and potential congenital defects that pregnant women carry. Children inherit a defective beta-globin gene resulting in the missing red blood cell protein that is responsible for transporting oxygen to the body. When only one parent passes on the gene, the child may be a carrier without symptoms. However, when both parents pass on the defective gene, their child is more likely to develop the condition and carry the Thalassemia trait. As such, genetic testing and blood tests are necessary when a woman approaches her second trimester of pregnancy and has a history of Thalassemia.
Chorionic Villus Sampling and Amniocentesis are two standard methods of extracting tissue or amniotic fluid to find genetic abnormalities. Genetic testing is important since a person without symptoms may still be a carrier. Diagnostic blood tests detect the condition, and treatments aim to lower iron levels in the blood and replace protein-deficient blood with healthy blood through transfusions for the most severe cases.
Filing a Claim for Failure to Inform, Test, or Diagnose Thalassemia
When an obstetrician fails to advise a pregnant couple about genetic testing, they deprive their patients of the necessary information for a life decision, particularly whether to terminate a pregnancy or prepare for a baby with the disease. A physician’s negligence in failing to inform a patient about genetic testing is one basis for medical malpractice and wrongful birth claims.
Moreover, when a doctor overlooks information in a patient’s chart about ethnicity and family members with the condition, they risk missing a Thalassemia diagnosis, which supports a malpractice action as well. Undiagnosed Thalassemia may lead to life-threatening complications to a baby’s heart, spleen, or liver. A baby may die from such complications, and the physician may be liable for the child’s wrongful death. All doctors owe their patients a duty of due care to maintain a professional standard of practice other similarly situated physicians maintain under the same conditions. Negligent medical practice breaches the duty that supports a medical malpractice claim.
Recoverable Compensation for Negligence in Thalassemia Cases
When you face the pain and hardship of raising a child with undiagnosed or misdiagnosed Thalassemia, consult with a medical malpractice attorney on our legal team to learn what you can do to help your child physically, emotionally, and financially. Through a successful thalassemia malpractice claim, you may be able to get your child’s medical costs repaid and their continuing medical expenses covered for the future treatment and therapies your child will need. You can also recover damages for your child’s pain and suffering, including their loss of enjoyment of life and your lost employment compensation in caring for your child. These damages and more may be available if you and your family have been victimized by a negligent medical professional who failed to advise you about testing for Thalassemia, failed to conduct proper genetic screening, failed to diagnose the condition, misdiagnosed it, or negligently treated your child following a Thalassemia diagnosis.
Contact a NJ Thalassemia Lawyer to Discuss Your Legal Options Today
Our skilled New Jersey pediatric malpractice, birth injury, and wrongful birth lawyers can educate you about what is involved in pursuing a thalassemia claim to prepare you for the road ahead as we deal with the medical professional’s insurance company, medical experts in obtaining their opinion and testimony, and gathering all evidence required to prove your financial and emotional losses. Preparing an effective claim for maximum financial recovery takes time, effort, strategy, and knowledge of how the insurance and legal system work.
Our attorneys have prepared, negotiated, litigated, and successfully recovered millions in verdicts and settlements on behalf of wrongful birth, pediatric malpractice, and birth injury victims and their families in New Jersey, and we consult on these cases across the United States. If you suspect you and your child may have a claim for thalassemia malpractice, trust your case to our team of professionals and contact us for a free consultation to discuss the process of obtaining the Thalassemia damages you are due. Call 866-708-8617 or submit an online contact form to get in touch with us.