Sponge inside Australia woman for 15 years prompts suit

An Australian woman says she carried a grapefruit-sized sponge inside her abdomen for 15 years, and is suing the doctor who she says left it there.

Helen O'Hagan says the sponge was left behind from colectomy surgery in 1992.

She thought the subsequent fevers, cramps and loss of bowel control were related to her original condition, until an X-ray in 2007.

The doctor had argued too much time had elapsed to warrant a trial, but a judge has allowed the suit to go ahead.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper said that over the 15 years, the sponge had "became encapsulated in dense fibrous adhesions within a sac of fluid".

It was removed by a different surgeon on the same day that it was found.

Judge Leonard Levy ruled that Ms O'Hagan could go ahead with the suit claiming negligence or breach of contract despite the lapse of time because the woman had been so preoccupied with her health that the delay was understandable.

Ms O'Hagan has been hospitalised 23 times since 1970. A colectomy is a surgical resection of the large intestine.

She also only learned this May that the sponge could only have been left there from the 1992 surgery. The lawsuit begins in the Sydney District Court this week.

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