Saturday 14 December 2019

I feared my life was over after HIV blood test blunder – victim

Michelle Kenny
Michelle Kenny

Tim Healy

A WOMAN broke down as she told a court of her devastation when she was informed she had tested positive for HIV – when in fact her blood sample had been mixed up with that of another person.

"I was devastated. I thought I was going to die, that I had no future," Michelle Kenny (35) told the High Court.

She has sued St James's Hospital in Dublin for nervous shock over the mix-up in 2010.

"I thought how could this happen to me. My life is over," she told Mr Justice Bronagh O'Hanlon.

Ms Kenny, who works as a clerical officer in the same hospital, had two more hospital blood tests which showed an all-clear, and another test through her GP, which was also clear.

She said she knows she is not HIV positive but she does not socialise any more.

St James's has admitted liability in mixing up the two samples, but is contending that Ms Kenny, who is from the Crumlin area in Dublin, did not suffer loss or damage.

Opening her case, Declan Buckley said Ms Kenny thought she had been given a death sentence and time stood still for her when she got the first blood test result.

She told the court she had felt unwell while on holiday in Majorca in 2010 and when she went back to work on August 17, 2010, she went to hospital casualty where she had an ECG, chest X-rays and blood tests.

It was thought she may have a blood clot on her lung or there was the possibility of TB so she was kept in hospital until she was discharged on August 23.

On October 6, 2010, she said she attended the St James's outpatient clinic where an assessment was carried out and a doctor asked could they also do a blood test for HIV.

"I did not think I had anything to worry about," she said.

Ms Kenny told the judge that on October 13 the doctor rang her to say she did not have active TB and she would ring her back in a few minutes about the HIV test.

When the doctor rang back Ms Kenny said she asked was somebody with her and she told her she was alone. "I asked was there anything wrong and she said the results of the tests were a bit worrying and it was not good. I said are you saying it is positive and she said yes, you are HIV Positive," she said.

Ms Kenny said she was screaming down the phone to the doctor saying that it can't be true. She said the doctor was telling her it was ok that she could live a normal life.

The doctor was trying to reassure her and invited her to take the blood test again.

She said she went back to the hospital to have the blood test again. When she got the result of the second test she was told it was clear and the doctor told her there had been a mix-up with the first sample.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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