News Article Details

Plasma center can reject blood donor who has violent PTSD panic attacks, U.S. judge rules

Patriot-News - 9/28/2018

Sept. 28--A midstate plasma collection firm didn't violate federal anti-discrimination laws when it rejected a blood donor who has severe panic attacks prompted by PTSD, a U.S. judge has ruled.

CSL Plasma Inc. of York had a legitimate reason for refusing to take blood from George Matheis Jr., Middle District Senior Judge Sylvia H. Rambo found.

She agreed with CSL's argument that Mattheis' panic attacks can become so violent he poses a risk to himself if he has one while a needle is in his arm.

Based on those conclusions, Rambo dismissed a lawsuit Matheis filed claiming CSL, which sells plasma to pharmaceutical companies, discriminated against him under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Matheis' PTSD stems from a police-involved shooting, the judge noted. His panic attacks can be triggered by crowded confined spaces, arguments or the sound of helicopters, she wrote.

CSL's rejection came after Matheis made about 90 plasma donations to the private center in 2016, earning an average of $250 to $300 per month. He never had a panic attack while donating, Rambo noted, but came under scrutiny when he brought his service dog to the center.

That caused CSL officials to determine his anxiety disorder "is too severe to safely undergo the donation process," Rambo noted.

CSL officials told Matheis he would be allowed to donate if he provided a note from a psychologist stating it was safe for him to do so. Matheis never secured such a note or returned to the donation center before filing the ADA suit, the judge observed.

"CSL articulated a reasonable belief that (Matheis') anxiety was so severe as to risk endangering (his) health," Rambo wrote. Matheis might have had an ADA claim if he had secured a note from a psychologist clearing him to give blood and still been rejected as a donor, she found.

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