SAGINAW (AP) – The Michigan appeals court has given a victory to the family of a man who unwittingly lived for years with a missing surgery sponge close to his heart.

A Saginaw County judge had ruled that the statute of limitations had lapsed in the case of John Doyle. But the appeals court says the case fits an exception in Michigan law to get around that time limit.

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In 2011, a 4-inch-by-4-inch surgical sponge surrounded by nasty green fluid was discovered near Doyle’s heart. It had been inside him for eight years and was removed by the same doctor who had performed open heart surgery on Doyle in 2003 at Covenant Medical Center.

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During the earlier surgery, one of 40 sponges was missing and never found, but Doyle was not informed. He died while the lawsuit was on appeal.

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