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Man awarded $870K after doctors remove wrong testicle

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A Pennsylvania jury has awarded $870,000 to a man whose surgeon removed the wrong testicle.

Steven Haines, 54, sued Dr. V. Spencer Long, whom Haines went to see in 2013 after suffering pain in his right testicle for 15 years. According to The Washington Post, an ultrasound revealed that the testicle had atrophied after damage from a previous injury, and surgical removal of the testicle was scheduled to help alleviate Hanes's pain.

Long performed the operation, known as orchiectomy, at J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital in Huntingdon -- but removed Haines' healthy left testicle instead of the damaged right one.

A Huntingdon County jury on Wednesday found Long was "recklessly indifferent" and awarded Haines $620,000 for pain and suffering plus $250,000 in punitive damages. Long declined to comment after the verdict.

Haines' attorney, Braden Lepisto, told The Washington Post that to this day, "it's still not totally clear" how the mistake occurred.

"The doctor gave an explanation that really made no anatomical or medical sense," Lepisto told the newspaper. "He claimed that he removed the testicle that was on the right side of the scrotum and the testicle had a spermatic cord that led to the left side of the body.

"Essentially, the doctor claimed that the testicles had switched sides at some point."

The hospital told the Post that Long no longer works there.

Though disturbing, such cases in which surgeons operate on the wrong body part are very rare. According to a 2006 analysis of nearly 3 million operations, the rate of wrong-site surgery was 1 in 112,994 cases.

In 2014, one such case made headlines when a Texas man sued his doctors for mistakenly removing his healthy kidney instead of his cancerous one. A similar case happened in 2013 when doctors at a prominent hospital in New York City removed the wrong kidney from a man who been on dialysis because of two diseased kidneys.

Haines' lawyer says the man remains in pain, but has a "debilitating fear" of seeking further treatment for his problem. The attorney says Haines will need testosterone treatment for the rest of his life if he loses the remaining testicle.

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