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Two donors sue CSL Plasma over staph infections

Two Southern Oregon residents are suing CSL Plasma for millions of dollars, saying that their blood plasma donations in Medford caused them stints in the hospital lasting months and still-lingering health conditions.

Joseph Carrero and Thomas Whitney, both of Jackson County, filed a lawsuit against the Florida-based blood plasma company earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Medford alleging that they racked up seven-figure hospital bills and have lasting health complications that they say stem from 2019 and 2020 blood plasma donations in Medford.

Carrero states in the lawsuit filed Feb. 11 that he suffered a methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus — sometimes referred to as MSSA — following a Feb. 26, 2019, plasma donation at the center on Riverside Avenue.

He describes kidney failure, heart problems and skin abscesses that led him to be hospitalized for 3-1/2 months, from Feb. 29 until June 3, 2019, and racking up medical bills amounting to roughly $1.5 million.

The lawsuit alleges that Carrero is “likely to incur an additional $500,000 more in future medical care,” according to the lawsuit filed by lawyer Kelly Andersen of the Medford firm Andersen Morse & Linthorst.

Whitney spent a combined eight months in the hospital after suffering bacterial infections that included MSSA and led to “septic shock and massive damage to his heart, brain, kidneys, spine and lungs, as well as shock to his liver,” after a March 26, 2020, plasma donation.

Whitney suffered “internal hemorrhages resulting in anemia,” along with elevated carbon dioxide levels, “severe neuromuscular weakness” and damage to his gastrointestinal tract, according to the lawsuit.

Whitney was hospitalized from April 9 to July 16, Sept. 3 to mid-November and roughly three weeks in December, and has incurred medical expenses of approximately $3.5 million. The lawsuit states that he expects to rack up another $3 million in future medical care.

“These injuries have permanent residual effects, including but not limited to the need for lung and heart transplants,” the lawsuit claims.

The suit alleges that CSL Plasma was negligent from “failing to adequately clean” Carrero and Whitney’s right arm before inserting the needle to draw out blood, or in “using a dirty or tainted needle.”

CSL Plasma is based in Boca Raton, Florida, and is the subsidiary of biopharmaceutical company CSL Behring based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. The company uses paid donations from its network of 270 blood plasma donation centers in the United States, Europe and China to create treatments for hemophilia and other bleeding and immune disorders.

The company has centers in 42 states, and the Medford center is one of four in Oregon.

When reached for comment, a CSL Plasma spokesperson emailed the following statement:

“We recently received the complaint and are reviewing it. CSL Plasma is committed to the health and safety of our plasma donors and employees. We have no further comment at this time as the matter is in litigation.”

Court records show that CSL Plasma has a deadline of March 10 to file a formal response to the allegations.

Carrero seeks $3 million in the lawsuit: $1.5 million for his past medical expenses, $500,000 for future medical expenses and $1 million for pain and suffering.

Whitney seeks $12,676,000 based on the $3.5 million in medical bills already spent, $3 million for future medical expenses, $1,176,000 for his lost earning capability, and $5 million in noneconomic damages for his pain, suffering and limits to his abilities.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.