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seansgirl
Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2004

I have a question and I was wondering if anybody could give me some advice.
I lost my husband Sean on August 19th of this year. He was 34 years old and got diagnosed with leukemia and Burkitts Lymphoma in December. He got intense chemo and the Army was looking for a bone marrow donor (his only sister wasn't a match). They found 40(!!) matches for him and told us in March that there is nothing else they could do until he was retired from the Army, because the Army does not pay for an unrelated bone marrow transplant. I have his medical records which state exactly "PT is currently in remission" (March 2004) After that everything went downhill. After an intense battle he finally got retired from the military on June 6th. We went to the Mayo Clinic, but his cancer was so advanced that chemo did not help. We tried natural healing with supplements, which brought his blasts down from 96% on July 27 to 52% on August 18, but he passed away on August 19th due to pneumonia. His body could not fight the infection.
My question is, how are my chances to sue the Army for not getting him a transplant when he was in remission. I know he would be still here with me and his 2 little kids (with have 2-year old twin girls)if the Army would have send him. His Oncologist told us he would have send him if his sister was a match. Is there anything I can eventually do ?? I am just sooo mad at the Army right now for letting my dh die, while they pay for anything else out there. I don't want any money, I just want to make sure the next soldier out there, does not have to go through this and might have to die, because the Army does not pay for an unrelated bone marrow transplant.
Thank you !!

spongebob's picture
spongebob
Posts: 2600
Joined: Apr 2003

Hi, seansgirl -

First let me say that my heart goes out to you and your twin girls. It sounds as though Sean put up a fight worthy of good soldier. I am also sad to hear that his treatment was maybe less than adequate.

I will be happy to check on the "no bone marrow transplant from a non-family member" policy for you. That seems rather odd, but there may be some sort of history with rejection issues (?)

As far as suing the Army for, essentially, malpractice... that's a tough one. There is a law dating to (I believe) 1950-something known as the "Ferries Doctrine" which prohibits families of service members from suing the military for death or further injury resulting from treatment received by the military. It was really based on battlefield medical treatment where conditions were less than ideal and it was (I hate to say "common"), but frequently the situation that infection would set in or people would be mis-diagnosed due to the triage situation, or people couldn't be adequately treated where they were due to lack of supplies, etc. Unfortunately, ther Ferries Doctrine as written extended to military treatment off the battlefield.

Since you say you aren't interested in any money, you might check with an attorney regarding a class action suit to change the Army's (and I would presume all military's policy) regarding transplants and donors. You might also consider starting a campaign to change the Ferries Doctrine to allow families the option of suing for malpractice and compelling the military to improve standards of care in thsoe areas where they need to.

Your case sounds odd - especially the part about medically retiring before transplant. You may want to have an attorney take a look.

I have a couple of contacts if you're interested. I know they represent folks who are involved in medical boards, but they are both prior military and know the military medical system fairly well. Drop me a note to my e-mail mailbox if you're interested.

Best regards

- SpongeBob

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