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Another Victim of Tainted Heparin?

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Orangeburg, SCAmy was given heparin injections on two separate occasions to thin her blood: once before having her gallbladder removed and the second time for hernia surgery. Both operations were successful yet she is having symptoms consistent with heparin contamination.

" I was given heparin in September of this year and again in December, both times about one hour before I went into the operating room," says Amy. "They injected heparin into my stomach. And on both occasions when I woke after surgery, the first thing I did was throw up.

Contaminated SyringeIn December it was worse—I was much more nauseated and stayed in the recovery room for most of the day, until I stopped feeling sick. Of course I was sore from the surgery but I was really shaking and after I stopped throwing up they took me back to my room. I threw up again and was really dizzy; I thought I was going to faint. I was supposed to just have day surgery but I stayed in hospital for 3 days.

I remember they had problems with my IV just before I went into surgery. My arm was burning and red where the line went in. My husband was in the room and swears they put heparin in my IV; that is where I was noticing the pain, burning in my upper arm. They had to take it out real quick and put it into my right wrist.

Since I've been home, I've been having a lot of problems with headaches. I also feel dizzy all the time and what's really got me concerned is this chest pain. My chest is tight and it feels like I am going to have a heart attack. I have never had any chest pains or heart problems in my life and never high blood pressure, until now.

On December 11th I went to the doctor who performed the hernia surgery to follow-up and get the staples out; at the same time I told him about the pain in my chest. I also told him about my other symptoms. He told me to either go back to the hospital or see my family doctor. I went to the family health center and they checked my blood pressure: it was 150/90 which is very high. My blood pressure has always been about 120/70. Even after I had my two kids, my blood pressure has been normal. Anyway, the clinic referred me to another doctor (who will accept my insurance) and I have an appointment with him next week. I might have to be on blood pressure meds for the rest of my life.

I can't think of anything else that could have caused these symptoms, other than heparin. I saw a commercial on TV that listed the same symptoms that I experienced. My first reaction was shock; I really didn't know what to think. I looked up the heparin recall on the Internet and found more information about symptoms from heparin contamination. I just couldn't believe it.

I wanted to call the doctor's office (the physician who did my gallbladder and hernia surgery) when I saw this commercial and tell him about it. I didn't know if I would get in trouble, perhaps he might think I am trying to sue him but that isn't my intention. I want to know if the heparin I was given was contaminated and if it could have caused these symptoms.

I am very worried about these chest pains and my blood pressure. The pains stay with me for at least 20-30 minutes then it goes away but comes back a few hours later. It is a tight feeling—I have to put my hand on my chest to hold myself, otherwise it feels like I won't be able to catch my breath. At night it comes and goes—I'm not getting much sleep. And the worst thing is that my son is only 8 months old and I can't even lift him because of these pains."

Baxter International Inc. (the largest distributor of heparin) has accepted responsibility for its role in distributing the drug and the company, along with Heparin manufacturer Scientific Protein Laboratories (SPL) has been named in lawsuits after the contaminated blood-thinner was given to patients that caused allergic reactions and even death. (One lawsuit filed in Cook County, Ill., Circuit Court names Baxter in the death of Breckinridge County resident Franke Leon Isom, who died one day after undergoing kidney dialysis treatment.)

It is estimated that 55,000 gallons of Heparin have been contaminated with over-sulfated chontrointin sulfate (OSCS), a medicine used in the treatment of joint ailments. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of patients have been sickened with this medicine since the recall: According to the FDA, 149 deaths reported between January 2007 and May 31, 2008 included symptoms attributed to OSCS contamination.



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