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Fayette parents sue hospitals, blood bank, doctor over infant son's death

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Saturday, July 12, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

The parents of a Fayette County baby have sued hospitals, a doctor, the Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh and the Institute for Transfusion Medicine over their 2-month-old son's death, attributed in part to a tainted blood transfusion.

Christopher and Cassi Lang of Uledi filed the civil action on Thursday in Fayette County court on behalf of the estate of their son, Xander, who was born prematurely and died in 2012.

Uniontown Hospital, Magee-Womens Hospital, UPMC Emergency Medicine Inc. and Dr. Febenido Pascua are among those named as defendants.

The couple, who filed as individuals and as administrators of their son's estate, seek compensatory and punitive damages in a 23-count suit that accuses the defendants of negligence, medical malpractice and wrongful death.

According to the 78-page complaint, Xander received a blood transfusion tainted with Cytomegalovirus while in the Magee neonatal intensive care unit in August 2012. Cytomegalovirus is a common, usually harmless, virus that can cause complications in newborns, according to the Mayo Clinic website.

The mother went to Uniontown Hospital then was rushed to Magee, where Xander was born prematurely by Caesarean section. At the time of his birth, his gestational age was 25 weeks and four days, and he weighed 1 pound, 3 ounces.

“Due to (the virus), Xander Lang's medical condition deteriorated, ultimately causing and/or contributing to his death on Oct. 30, 2012,” alleges the complaint filed by New Castle attorneys Douglas Olcott and Dorothy Dohanics.

The blood used in the transfusion came from the Institute for Transfusion Medicine, the blood bank for Magee, it said.

It should have been properly screened, tested or treated for Cytomegalovirus prior to being used for a premature infant, according to the suit.

Earlier, the child's mother had been treated at least three times in the Uniontown Hospital emergency department, where she did not receive proper care or testing from Pascua while in “hypertensive crises,” or for other problems, it says.

At one point, her blood pressure was 190 over 120, according to the lawsuit.

When the mother's obstetrician learned of her blood-pressure readings, he instructed her to go immediately to the hospital labor and delivery department, according to the complaint. She was admitted less than four hours after her last visit to the hospital emergency room, then rushed to Magee for the Caesarean section, according to the suit.

Pascua, who no longer works in the Uniontown Hospital emergency room, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Uniontown Hospital spokesman Josh Krysak declined comment, saying the hospital has not received a copy of the suit.

Representatives of UPMC, the blood bank and Institute for Transfusion Medicine did not return phone calls for comment.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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