When Bernice Marie Gomez entered the operating room at Methodist Dallas Medical Center last November, she believed she was having a cancerous tumor on her left adrenal gland removed.
But after a seven-hour surgery, the 62-year-old grandmother from Alvarado woke up with the malignant tumor still in her body and almost half her pancreas removed, according to a lawsuit filed on her behalf Wednesday.
The suit alleges that Dr. Sujeet Acharya, a Dallas-based urology specialist, performed the laparoscopic operation on the wrong organ and told Gomez that the surgery, while it took longer than expected, was successful.
Acharya could not be reached for comment Friday.
The lawsuit, which was also filed against Texas Oncology P.A. and Texas Urology Specialists, is seeking more than $1 million in damages. Methodist Dallas Medical Center is not being sued.
Texas Oncology declined to comment on the lawsuit, and Texas Urology Specialists did not return calls for comment.
John David Hart, a Fort Worth-based attorney who is representing Gomez, said one of the most shocking parts of this case is the report following the surgery.
“The operative report doesn’t have any indication that the pancreas was involved at all,” Hart said. “What’s troubling about this is that everything identified the correct procedure. On the operative report it says ‘specimens removed, left adrenal gland.'”
The report said that care had been taken to ensure that surrounding organs were not affected, Hart said.
But the pathology report that came back two days after the surgery indicated that the tissue sent in for testing was non-cancerous pancreatic tissue, not adrenal tissue, and that Acharya was called and notified of the findings.
Acharya never notified Gomez or her family of what really happened in the procedure, said Hart, but he commented after the surgery that he may have nicked her pancreas.
A CT scan showed that about 40 percent of her pancreas was missing and her left adrenal gland and the cancerous tumor were still there. Her pancreas, which had been stapled together, was pouring pancreatic fluid into her abdomen, Hart said.
Shortly after the procedure, Gomez’s condition rapidly declined and became life-threatening due to the cancer and her damaged pancreas, the lawsuit says. She needed emergency surgeries on her pancreas, which still requires a drain. Gomez, who had Type 2 diabetes before the procedure, now has Type 1 and requires insulin, because of her damaged pancreas.
Doctors have been unable to remove the growing tumor because of her poor health. She has been able to start chemotherapy recently, her attorney said.
Gomez is unable to go back to work and lives in almost constant pain, Hart said.
“It’s hard to believe how this could happen,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
According to Texas Oncology, Acharya received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in 2004, completed his residency at University of Chicago Medical Center and later completed a fellowship at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago.
Original article: https://www.dallasnews.com/business/health-care/2017/09/22/cancer-patient-says-dallas-surgeon-operated-wrong-organ