10 May | VA – An Arlington jury has returned a $1.5 million verdict for a woman who alleged that she suffered a stroke because a physician was negligent in providing in vitro fertilization therapy.
by Alan Cooper
Virginia Lawyer’s Weekly
At the time of the stroke in November 2008, the plaintiff, Maimunah Jafer, was relatively young for IVF therapy at age 30. She also had a hormonal disorder and low body mass. Those factors put her at risk for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, according to her attorneys, Malcolm P. McConnell III and Jason W. Konvicka of Richmond.
Despite the indications that Jafer was at risk, McConnell said, Dr. Michael Nort DiMattina continued with the therapy, including the injection of a hormone to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs so they could be taken from Jafer’s body and fertilized outside of it.
The hormone caused Jafer’s ovaries to become enlarged and fluid to leak from blood vessels and collect in her abdomen.
The loss of fluid thickened the viscosity of Jafer’s blood, which increased the risk of a stroke caused by a blood clot in the brain, and her physicians responded by injecting fluids into her bloodstream.
Her attorneys contended that DiMattina was negligent in two respects: he should have managed the treatment cycle differently or abandoned it altogether in light of the risk factors, and he should have administered anticoagulants in addition to injecting fluids.
Defense experts testified that administration of the hormone was appropriate. They said DiMattina had addressed the concern about a stroke from a blood clot by injecting fluids
Jafer initially lost most of the use of the left side of her body from the stroke, McConnell said. She has recovered somewhat but still walks with a limp and continues to have weakness and lack of dexterity in her left hand.
She claimed $368,943 in lost wages and medical expenses. A life care plan projected expenses for medication, ongoing physical therapy and devices to assist Jafer’s mobility around her home.
After the stroke, Jafer returned to part-time work as a speech pathologist but stopped working after she became pregnant without medical intervention and delivered a baby girl.
Judge Joanne F. Alper presided over the weeklong trial that concluded on May 2. Post-trial motions are pending.
Fairfax attorneys Richard L. Nagle and Paul T. Walkinshaw represented DiMattina. Nagle could not be reached for comment.
For more information about the dangers of In Vitro fertilization, Jennifer Lahl’s interview with Jane Doe is illuminating. Also visit the Center for BioEthics & Culture Network or watch the film Eggsploitation.