Aplastic Anemia Diagnosis And Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

October 6, 2022 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
The long-standing water contamination issues at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, gained a renewed national interest with the signing of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act on August 10, 2022. By lifting previous restrictions barring litigation, all those serving, living, working, and conceived on or near the military facility for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, have a two-year window of opportunity to seek compensation for certain preventable medical conditions related to toxic exposure. Contact a Camp Lejeune lawsuit attorney to get the legal help you need today.

The Cause, the Connection, and the Consequences

The groundwater and the drinking water supply for an estimated one million veterans and civilians contained hazardous amounts of toxic chemicals because of:
  • Improper industrial waste disposal
  • Leaking or damaged storage tanks
  • The proximity of aquifers to waste disposal dumpsites
After decades of hiding the truth, the government admitted to the affected families that they had been using contaminated water for cooking, cleaning, bathing, and drinking. The most prominent chemicals found in the water sources included:
  • Benzene, used in the manufacturing of plastics, resins, and synthetic fibers, is a known carcinogenic substance.
  • Perchloroethylene (PCE), a dry cleaning and metal degreasing compound, is a known carcinogenic substance.
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE), a solvent used to clean metal, is a known carcinogenic substance.
  • Vinyl chloride, PCE and TCE will degrade in the groundwater to form vinyl chloride is a probable carcinogen used to make PVC.

Aplastic Anemia

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), based in Atlanta, Georgia, made it known that benzene can cause blood disorders, such as aplastic anemia. As such, the federal government recognizes the illness as a presumptive medical condition of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

Living With Aplastic Anemia

This disease causes bone marrow failure. The blood-manufacturing cells in the marrow do not make sufficient new red blood cells necessary to oxygenate the body. Aplastic anemia can strike at any age without warning, but it is more likely to present itself between the ages of two to five, 20 to 25, and 55 and older. Although aplastic anemia is not necessarily fatal, it has many side effects and complications. The treatments are unpleasant, and a patient's quality of life is compromised. Those living with this blood disorder can experience:
  • Persistent and debilitating fatigue
  • Frequent bleeding (nosebleeds, bleeding gums), bruising, and unexplained and prolonged infections
  • Excessive and uncontrollable bleeding from cuts
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid or irregular heart rate
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Skin rash
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Unusual paleness

Additional Challenges Of Aplastic Anemia

Due to low white blood cell counts, infections are a significant concern and can be fatal in patients with aplastic anemia. Social distancing is a daily occurrence for those with such a compromised immune system—avoiding public gathering places and keeping away from anyone with a cold can often mean the difference between life and death. Additionally, aplastic anemia (AA) patients must:
  • Think twice about airplane travel. An airplane's changes in cabin pressure can result in bleeding inside the ears and chest pains. The recirculated air leaves an AA patient highly susceptible to a viral infection. If air travel is necessary, those with aplastic anemia often have to have a prophylactic blood transfusion to keep platelet counts in check.
  • Avoid high altitude geographic locations—the higher one goes above sea level, the less oxygen there is.
  • Take antibiotics before any dental work.
  • Restrict physical activity to avoid internal injury and uncontrolled bleeding.
Pregnancy and surgery pose significant health risks for those suffering from aplastic anemia.

Evaluating a Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Claim for Compensation

The amount of financial compensation possible is different for each victim of government negligence at Camp Lejeune. At this point, there is no definitive way to determine potential dollar value. Like any personal injury claim, final decisions are often based on:
  • The severity of the condition
  • The types of treatment required
  • The victim's response to treatment
  • The length of exposure to the toxins
  • The age the victim became aware of the condition
  • The victim's educational background and chosen profession

Significant Data

Although there is no established blueprint for building a case for an applicant's compensation due to acquiring aplastic anemia from the volatile organic compounds in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, there are guidelines and precedents that may shed some light on the potential determination. Aplastic anemia is considered a presumptive condition in a claim against the government. The Veteran's Administration (VA) grants monthly disability benefits to veterans with this condition. Every medical condition is assigned a diagnostic code—the code for aplastic anemia is 7716. Aplastic Anemia (DC 7716): A condition in which the bone marrow does not produce enough red blood cells. It may be treated with blood transfusion or, in severe cases, peripheral blood or bone marrow stem cell transplant. It may be rated at 30, 60, or 100 percent. The VA Disability Group: The dollar amount of disability depends on the percentage of the disability rating assigned to each individual, and the rating is based on the needed and proven treatments.

Treatment options for aplastic anemia

Medical therapy and supportive care

Because fungal and bacterial infections can prove fatal for those with severe aplastic anemia, patients often receive antibiotics, antiviral, and anti-fungal drugs, often by infusion.

Drug therapy

Some patients are treated with a drug, or a combination of drugs, designed to help restore blood cell production.

Blood transfusion

A blood transfusion provides red blood cells and platelets and can help stabilize a patient with severe deficiencies. Some patients may require frequent transfusions to help prevent cardiac and respiratory complications and spontaneous bleeding.

Bone marrow transplant

A bone marrow transplant is an intensive procedure involving destroying the patient's non-functioning marrow with drugs and radiation and replacing it with healthy marrow from a compatible donor. This procedure can be highly successful, although it is not a guarantee of a cure, and can lead to infections, sterility, and further complications to the patient's immune system.

Disability Ratings for Aplastic Anemia

  • 30 percent: for those who require an infusion of platelets or red blood cells or have an infection at least once in a 12-month period.
  • 60 percent: for those who require an infusion of platelets or red blood cells or have an infection at least once every 90 days during a 12-month period—or use continuous therapy with an immunosuppressant agent.
  • 100 percent: for those who require an infusion of platelets or red blood cells or have an infection at least once every six weeks over a 12-month period.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can significantly affect the amount of financial compensation a claimant may receive in a Camp Lejeune toxic water claim. Because aplastic anemia is a presumptive condition, those who meet the eligibility requirements do not have to prove their condition came from exposure to the water at the military facility. The final settlement amount (or jury award) will depend partly on the severity of the illness, the frequency of the necessary treatments, and the impact the illness has on the victim's life. A lawyer can thoroughly review and evaluate a claimant's medical treatment records to correlate their treatments with the government disability ratings. As of this writing, it has only been a few weeks since the passage of the landmark bill allowing legal action against the government. Although plaintiffs have filed an estimated 5,000 claims, it may take a long time before anyone can accurately determine the amount of compensation you may recover. The Congressional Budget Office estimated it would cost $7 billion to compensate those harmed at Camp Lejeune.

Damages in a Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

Filing a case under the new law could help you with:
  • Past, present, and anticipated medical expenses
  • The cost of travel  for treatment
  • Lost wages for the victim, or the  family's caregiver
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Funeral expenses

Cost of past and future medical care

Claimants who win a lawsuit or settle their aplastic anemia  cases can receive compensation for all exposure-related medical care, including:
  • Doctor's visits
  • Hospitalization
  • Surgical procedures
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Medications
  • Adaptive devices
  • In-home medical equipment
  • In-home medical care
  • Necessary modifications to the home

Lost income and diminished earning capacity

Aplastic anemia is debilitating, and the danger of infections can often force a person to social distance at all costs, even if it means giving up their chosen profession. The loss of income and benefits can mean financial ruin for those families physically affected by the toxic chemicals in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune. Claimants may seek compensation for:
  • Lost income, including the monetary value of sick leave or vacation days used due to aplastic anemia
  • Lost financial opportunities (expected raises, bonuses, promotions)
  • Lost benefits such as stock options, pension contributions, company-paid insurance
  • The loss of future employment opportunities

Pain and Suffering in a Toxic Water Case

Calculating the value of medical expenses and lost income is relatively straightforward, but placing a monetary value on pain and suffering is more complicated. An experienced personal injury attorney understands the importance of making the decision makers in an injury case aware of the injury's impact on the plaintiff. In Camp Lejeune claims, the years of deception may speak for themselves. Knowingly putting unsuspecting families in harm's way is not something we expect from our government. For some claimants, decades of fighting an uphill battle for justice was a painful process. Aplastic anemia is a scary condition, the treatments are expensive and painful, and the forced social isolation is mentally challenging. In addition to the physical pain, these patients may experience:
  • Mental stress
  • Worry
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Fear
  • Sleeplessness
  • A loss of enjoyment in life

No Cap on Damages

There is no limitation or cap on the amount of money a claimant can recover because of medical conditions resulting from toxic water exposure for your injuries under North Carolina law, which controls CLJA claims.

What Can a Lawyer Do to Help Victims of the Camp Lejeune Water Contamination?

In a Camp Lejeune lawsuit, damages will be paid by the federal government. Eligible claimants may accept a settlement or take a case to a trial. Potential claimants are best served by seeking legal counsel as soon as possible. A skilled attorney can maximize the chances of receiving full and fair compensation by:
  • Reviewing all the case details
  • Prepare the necessary and required court documents
  • Place a fair and reasonable value on the claim to cover all anticipated expenses
  • Gather medical bills and reports
  • Secure military  housing records
  • Review and evaluate medical records
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
    Matt Dolman, Camp Lejeune Attorney
    Request employment records and wage statements
  • Explain the process  to litigants as it unfolds
  • Advocate on the client's behalf
If you or a family member has aplastic anemia or lost a loved one due to aplastic anemia, and you have a qualified connection to Camp Lejeune, contact a personal injury attorney. You may be entitled to significant compensation. The right attorney has the resolve and resources to handle these claims. Typically, personal injury attorneys offer a no-cost consultation. Contact an attorney who can answer any questions about the new legislation and the complex issues surrounding the Camp Lejeune toxic water controversy.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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