Patient at Center of Hepatitis Case Speaks Out - 8 News NOW

Aaron Drawhorn, Reporter

Patient at Center of Hepatitis Case Speaks Out

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One of the first patients infected with hepatitis C at a local clinic is speaking out. Since the outbreak, public health officials have linked seven of eight original cases to the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada. The other is linked to the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center.

There are still questions about how a clinic could re-use needles and syringes and get away with it. For the first time, one victim is sounding off. She's living in fear and asked to conceal her identity.

A visit to the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada on September 21, 2007 changed this woman's life, "When they diagnosed me with hepatitis C, it was just like my whole world crashed."

She had no risk factors and was otherwise healthy before she walked through the doors for a colonoscopy from by Dr. Dipak Desai, a man she now considers to be a criminal, "He took my life into his own hands and decided to shorten my life."

Seven other patients have contracted hepatitis C, genotype 1A. The health district says 84 patients have tested positive for hepatitis, but those cases could not be directly linked to the clinics.

"This case is unparalleled. I think this is an absolute epidemic -- a crucial case to watch," said attorney Nia Killebrew.

Killebrew's law firm represents 35 people who have tested positive for hepatitis B and C and hundreds who may have been exposed. "It's outrageous. The medical experts that I've talked to are just astounded at what went on and the activities at the center."

After being hospitalized for two weeks, forced to drop out of school and postpone her wedding, this victim of the condemned clinic just wants justice for her and everyone affected by the health crisis.

"He is no different than somebody going out, robbing a bank, and then shooting somebody because basically, he has given a lot of people a death sentence," she said.

Local, state and federal authorities are still investigating the practices at the clinics. Before it's all over, the doctors involved could face criminal charges. In civil court, hundreds of patients are suing.

The class action lawsuit is also going to be big. Attorneys want to talk to the doctors in question, but a judge postponed those depositions until the end of next month.

Email your comments to Reporter Aaron Drawhorn

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