A Fresno woman is seeking monetary damages after a doctor removed her spleen instead of a diseased kidney, a mistake that left a pathologist “astonished,” according to a lawsuit.
The woman, Sarajane Parfitt, must undergo another operation to take out the kidney, and the removal of the spleen leaves her vulnerable to serious infections, according to medical experts. The lawsuit, filed in Fresno County Superior Court in June, contends the mistake has caused Parfitt “severe emotional distress.”
Paul Pimentel, Parfitt’s attorney, called the surgical error “insane…I’ve never heard of this in this community.”
Named in the lawsuit are Dr. Narayana Ambati, Community Regional Medical Center and Urology Associates of Central California. Also mentioned is another doctor identified as Shahin Chandrasoma of Pasadena.
Efforts to reach Ambati were unsuccessful. Mike Ball, a partner in Fresno law firm McCormick, Barstow, responded to an inquiry by saying:
“The incident involving patient Parfitt was subject of a full (California Department of Public Health) investigation last summer. Dr Ambati was NOT involved in the nephrectomy. The surgeon actually was a locum tenens, Dr. Chandrasoma. He is not affiliated with UACC. Curiously, he is not named in the recent lawsuit, but he is mentioned in paragraphs 10 and 12. I do not know who represents Dr. Chandrasoma.”
A locum tenens is a visiting surgeon. Efforts to reach Chandrasoma on Friday were unsuccessful.
Pimentel also said it is possible that Ambati did not perform the surgery, but he hadn’t “had that confirmed.”
In response to the lawsuit, Community Regional Medical Center issued this statement:
“During this difficult time for patient Sarajane Parfitt and her family members, we offer our sympathy. Because this case is pending, we are unable to comment.”
Pimentel said he expected the case to be settled out of court.
“The doctor does not want this case to follow him,” Pimentel said.
“Ninety-nine percent of cases settle” out of court, he added. “The fact is, this is so egregious, they should settle.”
The Bee did not receive a reply Friday from the California Department of Public Health about any investigation of the operation.
The operation took place in June 2021. The mistake went undetected for several days until the kidney was examined after it was sent to a pathologist, according to court documents. The pathologist “was so astonished, he asked other pathologists to confirm his diagnoses.” Ultimately, all five pathologists agreed the organ submitted for examination and identified as a left kidney was in fact a spleen.
According to the Mayo Clinic, when a spleen is removed, other organs generally take over its functions, but along with the higher risk of serious infections, a patient without a spleen has increased difficulty recovering from an illness.
In a similar Orange County, California case in 2017, a Santa Ana urologist was barred from further kidney operations after removing a patient’s spleen instead of a kidney, according to The LAist. He was also required to have another urologist on hand whenever he performed other procedures.
The case is scheduled to be back in court on Oct. 13.