An Australian woman is suing her doctor for negligence after a grapefruit-sized surgical sponge got sewn inside her abdomen 15 years ago during a surgery.
Helen Caroline Anne O'Hagan, said the sponge was left in her abdominal cavity by surgeon Samuel Sakker during a 1992 partial colectomy, Sydney Morning Herald reported.
After the operation was conducted in a Sydney hospital she suffered cramps, fevers and loss of bowel control but attributed it to the long-running health issues that prompted her to seek treatment in the first place.
It was not until she underwent an X-ray in 2007 that the sponge was discovered. A surgeon removed it on the same day.
But it was another three years before he told O'Hagan that it could only have been put there during the operation performed by Dr Sakker, the paper said.
During that time the sponge "became encapsulated in dense fibrous adhesions within a sac of fluid", the Herald said.
O'Hagan won the right to sue Sakker for negligence or breach of contract over the incident, despite the now-retired doctor calling for the case to be dismissed because she had taken so long to start legal action.
Judge Leonard Levy accepted that O'Hagan was so preoccupied with her health woes, having been hospitalised 23 times since 1970, she did not initially seek answers about how the sponge had ended up inside her.
The delay was compounded by the fact that the surgeon who removed the sponge was posted interstate for the next three years and did not tell O'Hagan it could only have been left there by Sakker until last May.
The lawsuit begins this week.