Woman testifies Theranos blood tests falsely told her she was having miscarriage
SAN JOSE - When Brittany Gould got her blood tests back from Theranos more than seven years ago, she was told she was going to have a miscarriage. It would have been her fourth failed pregnancy in a row.
But days later, tests results from another company proved the Theranos tests wrong, turning what looked like the woman’s fourth lost pregnancy into what would be her first child.
The story played out in San Jose federal court in the fraud trial against the failed bio-tech startup’s former CEO Elizabeth Holmes.
Gould's testimony, along with testimony from Tempe-based nurse practitioner Audra Zachman, continued to build on the government’s case against Holmes who is charged with defrauding investors – and now importantly, patients.
"I felt very uncertain of the validity of the result and felt uncomfortable as a provider having my patients drawn there," Zachman testified.
Gould herself took the stand but only to describe the bare-bones facts of her experience and the practical decisions to go with Theranos.
On cross examination, Zachman conceded that when she contacted Theranos about the test, company representative Christian Holmes apologized, offering her his private cell phone number and email and pledged to prove their technology was not defective.
But it was too late, Zachman said she’d lost faith in the company and vowed to never send patients at her clinic, Southwest Contemporary Women’s Care, back to Theranos.
The testimony follow a second day of evidence from former manager in Theranos’ research and development lab Surekha Gangakhedkar.
Under cross examination she testified that much of the work she oversaw at Theranos ended in positive results. She reported directly to Holmes, who used her blood tests results as a way to measure progress at the company.
But even with her results, many of the tests she developed for use on the company's Edison machines did not meet the federal standards for blood testing, known as CLIA.
She testified that he lab director was ultimately the one in charge, not Holmes, the company CEO.
"The defense is methodically demonstrating that she’s getting a lot of positive information," said Ellen Kreitzberg, a law professor at Santa Clara University who was in court and has been following the case.
She added that "The charges being brought against Elizabeth Holmes are not just that she gave investors inaccurate information. Some of that may or may not even be disputed, It’s that when she gave that information to investors, to doctors and to patients, that her state of mind at that time, that her intent was to defraud them."
Under cross examination, Gangakhedkar’s earlier testimony for the prosecution was softened. She detailed the hard work she did for the company and the breakthroughs and setbacks along the way.
She ultimately quit the company in 2013 after receiving a scathing email from co-defendant Sunny Balwani, demanding her team work more grueling hours than they were already putting in.
Evan Sernoffsky is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email Evan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EvanSernoffsky