One of our VA benefits lawyers won benefits for a widow who lost her husband to Bile Duct Cancer after he ingested Opisthorchis Viverrini Parasites in Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Mason Died of Bile Duct Cancer Decades After Ingesting Opisthorchis Viverrini Parasites in Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines
Mason served on active duty for 20 years. For several of those years, he worked throughout Southeast Asia. He worked hard as a maintenance technician, and, when he had the time, he left the base to enjoy the local food.
While, with a long military career, Mason was aware of the many risks of being on active duty, there was one threat that he, like many other Vietnam-era veterans, wasn’t aware of: Opisthorchis Viverrini Parasites.
The parasites live in the water in Southeast Asia and, when they are ingested through the consumption of local water or seafood, they burrow into the liver, causing a pattern of inflammation that can lead to cancer.
That is exactly what happened to Mason who, in 2009, tragically passed away from Bile Duct Cancer. His widow, Marie, contacted the Law Office of Sean Kendall to appeal a denial of benefits.
Marie Had to Prove That Her Husband Ingested the Parasites
To win her case, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (“VA”) required Marie to prove the impossible: she was tasked with demonstrating that her husband had been exposed to the parasite in Vietnam, Thailand, or the Philippines.
The Evidence, Including a VA Doctor’s Report, Was Seemingly Against Marie
There was robust evidence against Marie.
First, as is often the case, a VA doctor inaccurately assessed her husband’s history of service. While the VA doctor admitted that exposure to the parasites can lead to Bile Duct Cancer, he argued that, because Mason was a maintenance technician, it was unlikely that he left the base for food or water. The VA doctor also pointed to the lack of records reflecting dysentery in Mason’s file, arguing that any individual who consumed local food and water would have also experienced dysentery.
Making matters worse, there was minimal evidence of a liver disorder in Mason’s service-treatment records.
Veteran Survivors Benefits Lawyer Brought His Knowledge of Bile Duct Cancer Secondary to Parasite Exposure to Win the Case
Having plentiful experience working with the VA, our Veterans' Benefits lawyer knew exactly how to cut through the VA doctors report to win Marie’s case. He relied on two key tactics.
First, he successfully introduced Marie’s own testimony, which explained that her husband had, in fact, regularly left the base to consume local food in both Thailand and Vietnam, and that he quite enjoyed doing so, even though he became ill afterwards.
Second, he presented a new medical opinion from a non-VA doctor. That doctor, who had treated Mason prior to his death in 2009, ruled out many of the other plausible causes of Bile Duct Cancer, leaving exposure to parasites as one of very few remaining options.
Marie Demonstrated Service Connection
In the end, the Board was swayed by the evidence presented. It held that the evidence in the case was “in relative equipoise on whether the Veteran’s cause of death was ultimately due to the in-service ingestion of [parasites], which later caused his [cancer].”
How You Can Win Benefits for Bile Duct Cancer Secondary to Parasite Exposure in Vietnam, Thailand, or the Philippines
If you or a loved one have been through a similar experience, don’t hesitate to contact us. With decades of experience appealing denials and unacceptable rating decisions issued by RO’s, we are confident we can win you the benefits you deserve. When you are ready, send us a note or call us at (877) 629-1712 to discuss your appeal.
Disclaimer: All names have been changed to protect confidentiality. All cases are different and results will vary depending on the facts. Call us at (877) 629-1712 to discuss the facts of your case.