No leg to stand on?

The world is a mad, bad place. There are needless wars, predictable famines, and senseless killings. In this context, one man’s battle to save his healthy right leg from amputation is neither here nor there.

But every injustice is still an injustice and the following case is just as important, if not more so, than many stories that often rise to the top of the news agenda. The case is in the public domain and is receiving some discussion on specialist blogs but it’s unlikely to receive mainstream media attention until May 14th, when a two week hearing will decide a man’s future. Or, more precisely, the future of his right leg.

In July last year, Mr X, an American citizen, was on a French cycling holiday when he was admitted to hospital for a minor ailment. A routine blood test revealed that one of Mr X’s legs was diseased and would likely need amputation. This was no surprise to Mr X, he knew his left leg wasn’t in the best of shape and he was resigned to the fact it would have to be amputated at some point.

But then the bombshell. The French doctors said it was the right leg that was to be removed. Mr X protested, showing the doctors his medical records which showed it was his left leg that was diseased.

The doctors refused to examine the man’s US medical records, pointing to the blood testing results from their lab. By now, a worried Mr X had done his homework and had discovered the lab connected to the French hospital had a history of misdiagnosis. He asked for the blood tests to be redone in a different lab. The hospital refused.

Mr X asked to be transferred to a US hospital. This request was granted but, to his dismay, due to a ‘technicality’, doctors at the Colorado hospital he was transferred to, sided with the French doctors and stated they would remove Mr X’s right leg, not his dodgy – and, by now, gangrenous – left one.

Mr X pleaded for his blood sample results to be made public so his friends could argue his corner. The US doctors agreed to this but, instead of sending his original blood sample to an internationally-respected blood testing lab in California, the doctors sent the sample back to France, to the same lab that said it was Mr X’s right leg that needed amputating.

Mr X argued this was bad science, the sample should be tested by a lab independent of the first one. Despite this argument, the blood sample was not just tested by the same French lab it was even tested by the same two technicians who worked on the first test. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the results from the first test were replicated and the healthy right leg of Mr. X is due to be amputated on or before July 7th. His left leg – said to be “healthy” by the French blood testing lab, a lab with a well-documented history of mistakes – is now blackened and in urgent need of amputation but legal wrangles are preventing any medical intervention.

On May 14th a panel of three experts will spend two weeks deciding the man’s fate. Two of the experts were appointed by the French and US hospitals arguing for amputation of the healthy right leg. The third expert was appointed by Mr X but the expert has already been out-voted in a preliminary decision. Mr X is pinning all his hopes on public scrutiny of his case. For the first time ever, his hearing will be open to the media. His legal team has a wealth of evidence supporting the claim that his right leg is healthy and need not be amputated. Pictures of the healthy right leg and the gangrenous left leg have appeared on the internet.

Because of the unprecedented public scrutiny of a medical case that is usually decided behind closed doors Mr X is hoping his case shines a light on the systemic failures of the French blood testing lab and that, in future, hospital patients will be allowed access to medical tests and will be given the legal right to request independent, verifiably double-blind retesting of blood samples by one or more qualified labs.

Does any of this sound familiar? Watch this Floyd Landis video:

And, of course, have your creduality strained daily at Trust But Verify.