A Navy lieutenant and his wife have charged that their 8-year-old son contracted the AIDS virus during a series of transfusions at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and that doctors failed to inform them of his condition for three years.
In a suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, the Virginia couple alleges that their son, then an infant, was infected with the virus, HIV, that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome during several transfusions in a cooperative arrangement between Walter Reed in Washington and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda between 1983 and 1984.
Ben M. Smith, director of public affairs at Walter Reed, said he was unaware of the suit, but in any case would not be able to comment on ongoing litigation. Officials at the Naval hospital could not be reached last night.
Ryan William Cantrell was born with a heart condition that required transfusions, Peter I. J. Davis, the family's lawyer, said yesterday. His parents, Lt. James W. Cantrell and his wife, Nancy, requested that the hospital use blood from Mrs. Cantrell in at least one of the transfusions. On one occasion, blood from an unauthorized source was used, the complaint alleges.
The boy's condition deteriorated between 1984 and 1987, when medical professionals performed an HIV test that indicated the presence of the virus. The parents claim they were not told of the results until another HIV test was conducted in January 1990.
Both parents tested negative for the virus, the suit says. The suit is seeking $10 million.
The suit is seeking $10 million.