MASON CO. MAN COPES WITH PAIN - Claims Suffering Caused By Urologist

By Lawrence J. Smith

HENDERSON - Dr. Danny R. Westmoreland is not the only Mason County resident who alleges he was permanently injured by a Point Pleasant urologist.

Frank Eugene Meadows, from Henderson, says he, too, was victimized by Dr. Shrikant Vaidya. However, a lack of financial resources, and the willingness of other physicians to serve as an expert witness, forced the lawsuit he filed against Vaidya in 2000 into obscurity.

"I'd give anything if they'd fix me," Meadows said. "I'll wake up some nights with an erection that it hurts so much I'll cry."

A broken promise

Meadows, 56, a retired truck driver, was referring to his dealing with Peyronie's Disease, a condition in which plaque in the penis causes pain during an erection. The problem, Meadows said, first surfaced almost 10 years ago, and when he began seeking treatment for it.

After making trips to urologists in Columbus, Ohio, Norfolk, Virginia and Morgantown, Meadows said he settled on Vaidya based on the referral of another physician. When Vaidya promised he could fix his problem, Meadows felt comfortable undergoing surgery.

" 'If you have a problem, come by and I can fix it'," Meadows said Vaidya told him.

After his operation, which according to court records took place sometime around July 20, 1998, Meadows said he still was still experiencing pain. About 10 days after his operation, Meadows said he informed Vaidya of his concern in which Vaidya scheduled him for an appointment a month later.

During their visit, Meadows says Vaidya informed him his pain was a result of plaque not previously discovered.

Reminding Vaidya of his promise to "fix" him, Meadows asked for Vaidya to again perform corrective surgery.

Unfortunately, Meadows said Vaidya told him surgery was no longer an option.

" 'If you don't want the pump,'" Meadows said Vaidya told him referring to a device to aid in an erection, "there's nothing I can do for you." Whereupon, Meadows said, Vaidya asked him to leave his office.

Physicians refuse to speak out

After seeking a second opinion from a urologist in Norfolk, Meadows was told "what's done is done."

In his lawsuit, Meadows maintains that after consulting with the urologist he "now understands that the surgical procedure performed by the defendant on the 20th of July, 1998, should not have been performed, resulted in serious and permanent injury to the penis of said plaintiff and prevents appropriate and proper medical treatment from being performed relative to the disease which would cause an improvement in said plaintiff's condition."

With the assistance of David W. Nibert, Meadows filed his lawsuit against Vaidya on July 19, 2000.

In his suit, which his wife, Virginia is listed as a co-plaintiff, Meadows said as a "direct and proximate result" of Vaidya's "negligence and carelessness" he suffered "pain in the past, present and future; humiliation, embarrassment and disfigurement in the past, present and future; and loss of enjoyment of life in the past, present and future."

Likewise, the suit alleges Virginia "has been permanently deprived of the consortium, society and comfort of her husband and has suffered and will continue to suffer in anguish."

The Meadows' did not put a monetary value on their loss. Instead, they asked for "a sum in excess of the minimum jurisdiction of this Court as will adequately compensate the plaintiffs for their injuries, together with prejudgment interest, costs and attorney fees for this action."

Because Nibert was later elected as circuit judge later that year, he had to remove himself from the case. However, Meadows said Nibert referred him to John Carrico in Charleston to further pursue the case.

Upon consulting with Carrico, Meadows was told if he could find one doctor who would testify that Vaidya messed up, he'd have a solid case.

However, Meadows said that proved to be a fruitless endeavor as nearly every physician with whom he spoke refused to help for fear of themselves being sued.

One urologist in Morgantown expressed a desire to help, but later declined only because Vaidya's notes were so vague he could not reach a conclusion.

To the brink of suicide and back

About two years ago, Meadows said, he got so frustrated with the matter that he threw away all the supporting documentation he had in the case. Ironically, because no dismissal order has been entered in the case, it still technically remains open.

Nevertheless, Meadows said the frustration and pain has taken its toll on him. Despite having 14 major surgeries in his life, Meadows says the one Vaidya performed on him is the most painful.

In the eight years since the surgery, Meadows says he takes medication to calm his nerves, and has been through many bouts of depression. The bouts have been so severe that Meadows was not afraid to say he's contemplated suicide.

"I haven't had sex with my wife for two years," Meadows said. "I don't know why she's still here."

The unconditional love given to him by not only Virginia, but also his children and nine grandchildren is what's kept him going, Meadows said.

"I've got great kids," Meadows said, "They always tell me 'Dad, I love you'."

Married to Frank for 33 years, Virginia says there's more to their relationship than sex.

"Sex would be nice every once in awhile," she said. "I know it hurts him. It hurts me, but there's nothing I can do about it."

Today, Meadows does his best to be a full-time grandfather. Though he has done his best to put any bitterness toward Vaidya aside, Meadows, nonetheless, says he hopes Vaidya will one day soon stop practicing medicine.

"The madness in me is gone," Meadows said. "They should take his knife away from him."