Hospital On Hook for Mother’s Liver Donation

     (CN) – An Oregon mother can sue the hospital that botched her son’s liver surgery after she had to donate part of her own liver to save his life, the state appeals court ruled.
     Oregon Health and Science University and Dr. Marvin Harrison did not dispute the allegation that it damaged Tyson Horton’s liver during surgery.
     The boy was eight months old when the defendants severed blood vessels to and from his liver while removing one of its lobes. The baby had been diagnosed with hepatoblastoma.
     His mother, Lori Horton, donated part of her liver to save her son’s life four days later at a different medical facility.
     Horton and her husband Steve sued the hospital for her physical and emotional damages, and his loss of consortium stemming from the procedure and a follow-up surgery.
     Multnomah County Judge Jerry Hodson dismissed their lawsuit, finding that their harm was not caused by foreseeable results of the original, negligent surgery.
     The Oregon Court of Appeals disagreed and remanded the case for further proceedings.
     Chief Judge Erika Hadlock rejected Oregon Health and Science University and Harrison’s argument that Horton could not win a medical malpractice action because she was not their patient.
     Hadlock also refuted the defendants’ argument that Lori voluntarily chose to undergo the surgery on her liver.
     “Our conclusion that plaintiffs have adequately pleaded causation is supported by the few Oregon cases that address situations in which a plaintiff was injured in the course of responding to the defendant’s negligent conduct, rather than being more directly affected by that negligence,” she wrote in the April 27 ruling.
     Hadlock also stated that “rescuers” can sometimes be considered “foreseeable plaintiffs” in negligence actions, citing a 1926 case in which a mother died after trying to save her son, who was pinned under a slab of marble.
     “Plaintiff mother has adequately pleaded both causation and foreseeability,” the judge wrote. “The trial court erred in ruling otherwise and in dismissing plaintiff mother’s claim for failing to state a claim for relief.”

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