Inland Empire pastor sues hospital for kidney surgery complications

LOMA LINDA, Calif. (KABC) -- Bishop Larry Jones, who is known by his friends and family as Bishop, loves his job and the role he plays in the community.

And judging by his positive demeanor, you'd never guess what he's been through.

"I felt like they were killing me," he said.

Last year, Bishop underwent surgery for a kidney transplant after suffering kidney dysfunction for many years. His daughter, Stormy Jones, was the donor. Following the surgery, it became clear something was off.

"They didn't hook up the bladder right, so it leaked. They sent me home and when I went home, I was laying in the bed and I start feeling this pain in my stomach," Bishop said.

A lawsuit filed Monday in San Bernardino Superior Court alleges that Loma Linda University Medical Center "transected" Bishop's ureter during surgery. The ureter connects your kidneys to your bladder.

The complaint said cutting it caused leakage of urine into Bishop's abdominal cavity.

"If your job is to connect these pipes together, I'm trusting in what you do, but I'm dying in the process. My body started to shut down, my kidney, the liver. No oxygen is getting to my hands, no oxygen is getting to my feet," Bishop said.

When April Jones, Bishop's wife, rushed her husband back to the hospital, she said the ICU doctor told her Bishop was going to die. The doctor was wrong, but the lawsuit alleges Bishop's condition continued to deteriorate over multiple visits resulting in permanent injury and disability.

"You make a huge mistake. I mean, this is a huge one," the preacher's wife said. "I never in a million years could imagine that my husband was going to lose his fingers and his feet."

According to the lawsuit, the delay in the diagnosis and surgical correction of the ureter injury resulted in sepsis and necrosis of Bishop's feet and fingers, requiring amputation.

"Me and my daughter used to take his feet and connect it back to the bone and wrap it because it was separating," April said.

Loma Linda University Medical Center told Eyewitness News the following statement:

"We reserve comment until we have received and analyzed the lawsuit. We will respond appropriately at that time," it said.

The lawsuit is seeking unspecified economic damages for the Jones family to help them pay for medical bills and attempt to return to the life they had before the surgery.

"We lived comfortably," April said. "You know, today is...where do we stand tomorrow? My husband has always been a strong man and I will just have to do my part as a wife. Now, I'm everything. I have to take care of my husband, the house, I was doing the church."

Bishop said he trusted the cross on the hospital.

"When it came to Loma Linda, I trusted in the cross," Bishop said. "When I went to that building, I looked at that cross and I trusted that you know, but then I also had to understand that a cross can go both ways."

Bishop's lawyer Ben Meiselas, from the law firm Geragos and Geragos, said he hopes the lawsuit prevents any hospital from treating their patients the way his client was treated.

"It's shedding light on what's taken place at Loma Linda. How they've callously disregarded his life so that other patients there recognize their patients' rights so they can be advocates for themselves or that they can reach out to advocates so that this doesn't happen to them," he said.

For Bishop, he's thankful he can still do what he loves.

"Still preaching, in the wheelchair. That's not going to stop. That's going to go till the day I die," he said.

Bishop still has many health issues and has had several visits to the doctor's office for follow ups. He hopes to get fitted for prosthetics soon.
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