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Tallahassee Family Speaks Out After Losing Son to Faulty Blood Transfusion

Chase Fitchner would have been 10 years old Monday. His parents, Kaynan and Ross Fitchner, are still recovering over their son's death two years ago.

"I felt horrible. I couldn't do anything to help him. He didn't know who I was. It was hard," said Kaynan Fitchner, Chase's mother.

In 2002, Chase was diagnosed with the West Nile Virus, which he'd contracted through a blood transfusion.

A jury in Gainesville, Florida, where the transfusion took place, recently awarded the Fitchners $8 million, compensation for their pain and suffering.

"He is the best young boy a father could ever have," said Ross Fitchner, Chase's father.

"This poor family has suffered more than any family that I have every seen in the 25 years that I have practiced," said Dean Leboeuf, an attorney for the Fitchner family.

The Fitchners say their son suffered seizures, brain damage and a coma. Their attorneys say LifeSouth Community Blood Centers out of Gainesville accepted a blood donation from a non-English speaking donor who didn't understand critical questions asked during the screening process.

"We're hoping that the blood banks will start taking the screening seriously," Rhonda Bennett, also an attorney for the Fitchner family, said.

Officials with LifeSouth released a statement saying its staff acted appropriately in accepting the blood donation, and that the donation was accepted in September 2002, prior to the medical and scientific community being aware that West Nile could be transmitted through blood transfusions.


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