Plasma donor sues company after disease scare

HAYDEN, Idaho — A Spokane woman is suing a company with a clinic in northern Idaho after she says its technicians falsely diagnosed her with hepatitis and HIV in April.

Melissa Bloom sued Pennsylvania-based BioLife Plasma Services, with a clinic in Hayden, Idaho, in 1st District Court, the Spokesman-Review reported Thursday.

Bloom is seeking damages of more than $10,000, contending that she was subjected to emotional distress amid a “10-day nightmare.”

Bloom says she sold her plasma to the Hayden facility for about six months. Initial tests showed no communicable diseases.

However, she says, that changed when BioLife workers combined her blood with that of several other donors to prepare it for sale.

Bloom was informed of the positive test when she tried to donate to the Hayden facility again in April. Technicians there had also removed her from consideration nationwide by entering her name on a list of rejected donors.

After learning of the lab’s conclusions, Bloom immediately drove to her physician and ordered a series of blood tests that later confirmed the false diagnosis, according to court documents.

Eventually, the company sent Bloom a letter April 25, more than a week after her visit, that said “we feel confident the result from the March 7, 2013, donation represents a false positive,” according to the court filing.

During the uncertainty, Bloom contends that she faced concerns about her grandson coming into contact with an open leg wound — as well as a humiliating conversation with her fiance.

In an emailed statement, a BioLife spokesperson said the company, a subsidiary of the Baxter Healthcare Corp., was aware of the lawsuit but declined to discuss the specifics of the case.

The company contends that it’s committed to the safety of its donors.

“Baxter and BioLife Plasma Services rely on highly stringent policies and processes to assure product safety,” according to its statement. “These include extensive donor selection and screening, plasma screening and inventory hold, and processes to remove viruses.”

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