Pregnant woman testifies against Elizabeth Holmes after Theranos test falsely told her she was miscarrying

Gould, who had suffered three miscarriages, testified against the CEO for the faulty testing device

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Wednesday 22 September 2021 08:08
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An Arizona woman testified against former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes on Tuesday alleging that the company's blood test almost drove her to terminate her pregnancy after it falsely showed she was suffering a miscarriage.

Brittany Gould, the first person to testify against the wire fraud case against Ms Holmes, said that she took the Theranos test at a Walgreens store in Arizona after learning about her pregnancy in September 2014.

Hailed as a disruption in the medicine industry, the concept device named "Edison" can run several tests only from few drops of blood.

Ms Gould had already suffered three consecutive miscarriages and wanted to ensure everything was alright with her fourth pregnancy. Given the high risk, her nurse practitioner Audra Zachman advised her to conduct an hCG test, which measures pregnancy hormone, CNBC reported.

The value doubles every 48 to 72 hours in a normal pregnancy, Ms Zachman said. Ms Gould first took a test on 30 September with a value of 1,005, and later on 2 October, the levels had jumped to 12,558.

On 4 October, another Theranos test showed those values had plummeted to 125.58 indicating she was suffering a miscarriage.

“She told me your numbers are falling, unfortunately, and that I was miscarrying,” Ms Gould said. However, tests conducted after few days through a different lab confirmed that she was still pregnant. Eventually, eight months later she delivered a healthy girl.

“I remember communicating to Brittany that it was looking as though this was a non-viable pregnancy which would make it her fourth loss,” Ms Zachman testified. She added, "there isn’t a medical explanation in a pregnancy loss for the value to go from 100 way back into the thousands or to go up at all really."

Following the incident, Ms Zachman filed a complaint with Theranos.

She told jurors that she began sending patients to Theranos in 2014 after learning about their new technology, but stopped after the false report. “I felt very uncertain of the validity of the results and felt uncomfortable as a provider continuing to have my patients use it,” she said.

An emotional Ms Gould added that after giving birth, she never used a Theranos product again. She said: "You can’t provide accurate patient care with inaccurate results."

According to prosecutors, Ms Holmes and her former partner and the company's former president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, “duped” patients and investors claiming their "revolutionary" device could run multiple tests through a finger-prickle system.

In reality, the device often fell short and malfunctioned. “The loss of all these babies and pregnancies, and going through the experience of thinking I’m losing another one, is a lot,” Ms Gould told The Wall Street Journal.

The accused have been charged with nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection to the scheme that pulled in $700mn from investors. All the accused have pleaded not guilty.

Ms Holmes has maintained her innocence since the US government pressed charges against her in 2018. Her trial began on 31 August after being delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and then a pregnancy.

If convicted she could face a 20-year prison sentence and a reversal of fortune for an entrepreneur whose wealth once was pegged at $4.5 billion.

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