Call us at


Call us at


Hundreds of thousands of Americans are injured or killed due to medical mistakes each year. These errors are usually preventable and can lead to tragic events that leave families devastated. One notable case of egregious medical malpractice involved 17-year-old Jesica, a patient at Duke University Hospital. In 2003, she received a heart-lung transplant at the prestigious hospital, but passed away due to a blood type error.

Malpractice lawyers in Chester County, PA and around the globe kept a close eye on this case to see if the family attained the outcome they deserved for the loss of their daughter. Although her family ended-up settling with Duke for an undisclosed amount, even the best medical malpractice lawyers in Pennsylvania know that no amount of money can ever erase the pain of losing someone you love.

Jesica’s Story

Jesica suffered from a life-threatening heart and lung disorder that drove her parents to bring her to the U.S. from Mexico to receive the medical treatment she desperately needed. On February 7, 2003, Jesica received a heart-lung transplant at Duke University Hospital. The surgery was performed by a highly respected pediatric cardiac surgeon who had performed more than 100 heart transplants.

About five hours into the surgery, the surgeon got word from a technician in the immunology lab, who told him that the organs, which were from a type A donor, did not match Jesica’s blood type, which was type O. This led to the antibodies in her blood attacking and destroying her new organs. The surgeon told Jesica’s parents about the error shortly after surgery, but Duke University Hospital didn’t inform the public for 11 days, when they finally made an announcement seeking another donor. Although she received new organs 13 days after her initial surgery, Jesica slipped into a coma and died on February 22, 2003.

How Did This Blood Type Error Happen?

More than a dozen people at Duke and the organ donation organizations were responsible for acquiring a new heart and lungs for Jesica. So what went wrong? How did someone fail to catch this grave error? Sadly, a failure to communicate basic information was the main cause – no one ever cross-checked her blood type to make sure it was a match before surgery.

UNOS, the national organization that coordinates some organ donation services throughout the country, already had a policy that required blood types of donors and recipients to be matched before releasing any organs. However, no one at any organization involved ensured that Jesica’s blood type and the organs were a match. The surgeon took responsibility for the error and an investigation led to the hospital implementing new procedures to prevent similar errors from occurring.

Blood Type and Transfusion Errors

These types of cases are complex and can be challenging to win, so having an experienced attorney by your side is critical. Although Jesica’s family was left heartbroken without their daughter, one positive aspect of this incident is increased transplant safeguards, and increased awareness of organ donation by the general public.

In addition to mistakes involving blood type, Good medical malpractice lawyers are well-versed in other blood-related errors, such as:

  • Incorrect blood type analysis
  • Dispensing the wrong blood product
  • Improperly-labeled blood products
  • Blood administered to the wrong patient
  • Expired blood products

How a Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help

Regardless of the type of error, if you believe you or a loved one was hurt due to a mistake by a medical professional or organization, our medical malpractice lawyers in Delaware County PA and malpractice attorneys in Chester County, PA can assess your case, advise you of your options, and help you hold responsible parties accountable.