UPMC wins appeal in liver donor lawsuit after family waits 12 years to file

By Laura Halleman | Aug 29, 2017

HARRISBURG – The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has won an appeal of two parents and their son that involved an unhealthy liver donation and the time in which they filed their lawsuit.

The Superior Court found July 26 that too much time had expired since the liver donation and the time plaintiffs filed suit, a violation of the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund (MCARE) Act statute of repose.

The case involves plaintiffs Christopher G. Yanakos, Susan Kay Yanakos and William Ronald Yanakos. In September 2003, Christopher Yanakos voluntarily donated part of his liver to his mother, Susan Yanakos, who suffered from Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD).

Before the surgery, Christopher Yanakos informed a physician at UPMC that other members of his family also had AATD, but stated he was not sure if he had the disorder. He was evaluated to ensure his liver was a healthy option for his mother.

After the surgery, Christopher Yanakos tested positive for AATD. The plaintiffs “further allege that the existence of AATD disqualified Christopher as a potential donor and that the liver donation should have never proceeded with Christopher as the donor,” the memorandum states.

However, the plaintiffs state that it was not until Susan Yanakos began experiencing problems with her liver in June 2014 they discovered Christopher Yanakos tested positive for AATD during pre-surgery tests.

They then charged UPMC with “negligence and lack of informed consent.”

UPMC denies the allegations and “raise the affirmative defense of the statute of limitations, asserting that any perceived negligence occurred during 2003, well over the two-year statute of limitations available to [appellants] for their claim of negligence,” the memorandum states.

The Superior Court found that Plaintiffs “failed to circumvent the applicable MCARE Act statute of repose, where it was undisputed that the alleged negligence occurred in September 2003, 12 years prior to appellants’ complaint in December 2015.”

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