Family sues metro hospital after sponge is left in knee

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OKLAHOMA CITY - An avid runner has been sidelined, after she said a sponge was left inside her knee following surgery.

The incident reportedly happened two years ago at Mercy Hospital.

Though the woman's family recognizes this was a mistake, they said, because of the hospital's lack of proper response, a lawsuit is their only option.

For Whitney Jarvis, running was more than an escape - it was a part of her faith.

"It was just such a freeing experience for me," she said. "It became a way that I would pray."

The now 22-year-old spent much of her college days jogging through the campus of Oklahoma Christian University.

She was on a mission for a marathon that now may never come to be.

"I've always wanted to run a marathon, and that's just not going to happen," Whitney said.

It all started two years ago, when Whitney went under the knife at Mercy.

"She was playing soccer, she hurt her knee and she went for what was believed to be a routine knee surgery, an ACL repair," said Les Weisbord, attorney.

The repair would be anything but routine, after Whitney's temperature spiked four days later.

"She started having an infection, she was running fever and that's how we knew something was wrong," said Whitney' father, Scott Jarvis.

So, they visited Dr. William Hale II a second time, only to find what he'd left behind in Whitney's knee.

An X-Ray revealed a Ray-Tec surgical sponge had been left behind that sparked a host of future problems for Whitney.

"Besides having to have the surgery to remove the sponge, she had to have three additional surgeries on her knee," Weisbord said.

Nearly two years later, the family is now suing Mercy for monetary compensation.

The suit alleges the hospital failed to "provide adequate training" and other negligent acts were a "direct proximate cause of permanent injury to Whitney Jarvis."

"Never in my life did I imagine being involved in a lawsuit," Scott said. "First experience like this for any of us. We didn't want to go this route, but we felt forced."

NewsChannel 4 has learned through Hale II's office that he no longer works for Mercy.

Though Whitney's long distance running days are mostly behind her, she hopes to one day leave the surgery, the sponge and this suit in the dust.

"It's just frustrating that we can't get the help that we need," Whitney said.

Courtney Landsberger, Media Specialist with Mercy, sent the following statement:

"This is an ongoing matter that we are following closely. However, we do not respond to pre-litigation before we’ve had a chance to see the pleadings and complete an internal review."

The family said they are unsure as to what amount they will be seeking in the lawsuit.