The Faces Behind the Why

Patient Stories

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It only took a matter of moments for my world to fall part apart that Spring day. We were just a few minutes from our house as we returned from a family vacation when a driver raced through a stop sign and crashed into our vehicle. My wife of twelve years was killed instantly. EMTs informed me that day that I had watched as Sarah took her very last breath. At...
Just and Restorative Cultures – Healing, not Harm.  Sam was my little sparkle. Life-affirming, cheeky, and bursting with life, he liked music, mud, pebbles and pine cones. He was funny and affectionate. He thought baby cows were ‘cute’ and enjoyed balancing ‘imaginary cow-pats’ on my head. In the run up to Christmas 2010. Sam and I were heavy with cold. Britain was frozen. Sam’s energy rose and fell with his...
I’m an artist, an advocate, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and most recently a victim of dental malpractice. I was actively pursuing my passion as a Semi-professional “Singer/Song Writer/Radio Host/Animal Activist” until the reality of declining health forced me out of everything I loved and worked so hard to achieve. I lost most of my teeth at the age of 16, due to having little to no medical or...
Candace’s story is a horrific reminder of the damage medical error can cause. At eleven years of age, Candace was prescribed an antidepressant, not for depression, but for test anxiety at school. After several months with no noticeable change, the dose was doubled. Candace eventually had a negative reaction to the medication, after being told that she could take an extra pill at night if she was nervous about school the...
We lost Abdi when he was only 30 years old. He personified all the strengths you would expect: strong, fit, confident, articulate, intelligent and compassionate. His softer qualities impressed everyone the most: warmth, humility, kindness, consideration and appreciation. We lost him to two medical mistakes while he was hospitalized, which were preventable by all means. Both mistake arose from reading another patient’s lab results and another patient’s CT scan results...
March 1, 2015 One of the happiest days of Mary’s life was when she celebrated the birth on her second grandson, Logan. Eleven days later, she would die. She only got to see Logan that one time, the day he was born. Mary needed an aortic valve replacement. She had a severely calcified, bicuspid aortic valve that needed to be replaced. She was an otherwise, healthy 68-year-old with two young...
If I had not witnessed it with my own eyes, I would not have believed it. How could anyone have so much bad luck? How could bad luck be so devastating? Nora’s bad luck began even before she was born. I was young and healthy with no pregnancy risk factors. My doctor ignored me when I complained of pain contractions and heavy bleeding for weeks. He told me it was not as...
Mark was 26 years old and living in Florida. He collapsed one day while out with friends and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was taken to the hospital, where he was fully conscious until he was placed into a drug-induced coma. On the second day in the hospital, Mark developed pneumonia, probably due to a mishap with his feeding tube. His parents were told that all was well and...
It was a normal, uneventful, joyful pregnancy, albeit filled with a little anxiety since our first pregnancy ended in a “missed miscarriage” just three shorts months into our marriage. I was thrilled to be pregnant again after losing our first child at 9 weeks’ gestation and my anxiety led me to be very diligent in watching over my health to keep the baby as safe as possible. After doing thorough...
Josie King was admitted to the hospital after suffering severe burns from climbing into a hot bath. She had healed, and was set to return home two weeks later. Josie died days before she was to be released. She had an undetected central line infection and severe dehydration. After she left the PICU, Josie’s central line was removed. Every time she saw a drink, she screamed for it. She was...
This is not a motivating story nor is it a pretty one! However, it is a story that brings about awareness to a deadly and oftentimes fatal life threatening illness! It is the reason behind the “WHY” I do what I do! It is because of sepsis I’m so passionate about my health and that of others. Over the last 10 years, sepsis has reared its ugly head twice in...
It’s funny how life is laid out before you. For instance, what you are supposed to be doing has been written in the stars. I had no idea of this, of course, until the birth of my precious daughter, Lily. I had a surprise diagnosis of low chronic amniotic fluid that was discovered during my 20-week ultrasound. Call it a mother’s intuition, but I knew something was wrong with our...
My mother, Vera Eliscu, was an alert, active, highly intellectual retired classical dancer and business-woman.  In January 2009, at the age of 90, she was admitted to the hospital for treatment of a foot ulcer and cellulitis. An MRI showed the bone in her foot was unaffected. After five days in the hospital Mom was released to a long-term care facility with a two-week antibiotic prescription and instructions to stay...
In March of 2012, Glenn Clarkson was helping with a controlled grass burn in rural Kansas. Something went terribly wrong and he became surrounded by flames, so he dropped into a shallow pool of water. His clothes did not catch fire, but he did suffer thermal burns. His wife, Nancy Clarkson, took him to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. He was diagnosed with second degree burns over 30%...
“For 36 hours we celebrated a homecoming…” It was March 25, 2011, and the day had finally arrived. After years of dreaming about becoming a mother, Tara Hansen had spent the previous nine months preparing with her husband and high-school sweetheart, Ryan Hansen, for the arrival of their first child and the start of their new life together as a family. No detail was missed in preparation. Nursery items were...
My 22 year old niece went to her gynecologist in 2017 because she was not having regular menstrual cycles. When blood work revealed elevated prolactin levels the physician referred her to a radiology clinic for a MRI with contrast. On March 16th 2018, my niece reported to the clinic for her MRI appointment and she left there unconscious and in a coma. One week later she was declared brain dead....
On April 8, 2008, my dad was referred to a long-term acute care facility to be weaned off BiPAP. On admission, he was stable and had no emergency conditions. An allergy band was fastened to his wrist to warn about a life-threatening sulfa allergy that had been well documented in his medical records since 2004.  On the second day, the attending physician prescribed a sulfa medication called Diamox. Since my...
Alicia Cole had been a successful working actress whose only experience with healthcare was playing doctors on TV. All that changed, however, when she learned in 2006 that she needed a “routine” procedure to remove two small uterine fibroids. Originally, she was scheduled to be home in two days, but that never took place. She left the operating room with a fever, nausea, and pain, and her condition declined from...
On Sept 21, 2013 we and others were involved in a serious boating accident in which Jennifer sustained multiple internal life-threatening injuries, including several broken bones, head and neck trauma, and external lacerations. She was airlifted to a Level 1 Trauma Center and underwent multiple emergency surgeries. She remained in a medically-induced coma and on life support systems for the next three weeks. In addition to her recovery from the...
On April 1st 2012, our lives changed forever. On that day, our 12-year-old son died from sepsis. Rory was a bright, civic-minded boy with a reputation as an ally of underdogs. At his school in Queens, he was elected to the Student Council and led a campaign entitled Spread the Word to End the Word to curtail the casual, derogatory use of the term “retarded.” He was passionate about politics,...
On September 19, 2010, I suffered the greatest loss of my life. My husband, Donald James (DJ) Sterner died unexpectedly and needlessly due to a food poisoning infection he contracted while an inpatient at a Texas hospital. In short, his intestines were broken down by Clostridium perfringens bacteria and leaked into his bloodstream, causing organ failure and cardiac arrest. Medical staff dismissed his complaints of pain and failed to diagnose...
Lewis Blackman was one of those children who just shines. For all his short life, he seemed to float effortlessly to the top no matter what he tried to do. He was a soccer player, a saxophone player, a writer, an actor in community theater, one of the top students in our state of South Carolina. We, his parents, thought he was the most brilliant boy in the world. We...
My name is Alyssa, and this is my 4th grade picture; I’m nine. This is also where time stopped for me. I won’t grow any older. I won’t graduate from High School, attend college, get married, have a family or career. The impact I have on the world is from a frozen state. I have a story to share, but no longer the voice to present it. It was a...
My life changed forever on 5th November 2008 when my baby son Joshua died. Joshua was born just 9 days earlier – a perfect beautiful baby boy.  Shortly after his birth, my wife collapsed with sepsis and was quickly given fluids and antibiotics. Over the next few hours, my wife recovered. We were both concerned for Joshua, but when we asked the midwives whether he might be at any risk,...
In the fall of 2013, my husband Dave Bunoski and I were spending the weekend at our cottage on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. We had purchased the weekend home six months prior and we were in love with our little slice of the pie. We’d attended a large oyster festival with out of town friends on Saturday. We were excited to share our home with friends that weekend, it was a...
I’m Jess, and this is my story. That’s me with the long blonde hair when I was about 12. Around that time I started passing out, especially if something scared me, like if one of my cats jumped up on my bed when I was sleeping or if Mom ran a blender early in the morning. First I’d get really dizzy and then I’d just faint. Mom said it was...
Holly Patterson died three weeks after her 18th birthday.  Healthy and beautiful, this young native of the San Francisco bay area had her whole life in front of her. Her story begins in 2003 when she entered a clinic with her boyfriend to terminate her seven-week-old pregnancy with the two-drug medical abortion regimen of mifepristone (commonly known as the Abortion Pill or RU-486) and misoprostol. (In 2000, the FDA approved...
My wife and I met in 2001 and five years later were married in a dream ceremony at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. A year later, we were pregnant with our first child and on May 25, 2008 – a day after my wife’s birthday – our daughter entered the world, albeit six weeks early. My wife was diagnosed as gestational diabetic during the pregnancy and unfortunately, following the delivery,...
My 65-year-old father, Curtis James J Bentley, underwent successful surgery to place a stent in his heart. He was discharged from the hospital and I was told that he was “100% clear.” While recuperating at home, however, he started bleeding. He was coughing up blood, having nose bleeds and blood was present in his stool and in the toilet. I took him to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed...
My name is Candice Sanders. I am a 36 years old single mother to my 3-year-old daughter. During my C-section with my daughter, I contracted MRSA (Narcotizing Fascitiis), Cellulitis, and my blood was gram-negative. I had to undergo 7 surgeries and 9 blood transfusions and I was separated from my newborn for a month; while in a California hospital. I had 2 surgeries in Las Vegas and because the infection...
May 1, 2012 was the start of a week which would forever change our lives. Gabby was a vivacious, funny, and smart five-year-old girl who loved cupcakes, animals, and spending time with her family. She had the sense of humor of an adult, and was the most kind, caring, and loving child. Gabby was so happy to love and to be loved. She adored her pet Chihuahua Bella, and enjoyed...
After trying so hard to get pregnant with our first child we were surprised to find ourselves pregnant with our second child so soon.  We joke that Grant Lars Visscher was in such a hurry to get here that he didn’t allow his body to fully develop and that is why he was born with a heart defect. I was 18 weeks pregnant with Grant when we got the news...
We had a complicated delivery with our first son, Oliver. It started as a home birth and resulted in an emergency C-section in hospital. One year later, when we got pregnant with our second son, Benjamin, we were surprised that, despite our traumatic birth history, the recommended plan was VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). The UK maternity approach follows a midwifery model for low risk women and, since we had...
The last normal day of Michael’s life began like any other. He was sitting on the couch playing with the family’s new puppy. Suddenly, he inexplicably passed out. When Michael regained consciousness, the 22-year-old EMT and nursing student knew he had to get to the emergency room right away. At the time, a doctor suggested that Michael had probably had a seizure, a side effect of Wellbutrin, an antidepressant he...
After 3 months of extensive medical treatment for a devastating illness it is heartbreaking to realize that my husband contracted a serious debilitating illness while in the hospital that is designed to protect and offer treatment for the specific illness he was diagnosed with. On Nov 17, 2017 my husband Jim entered the hospital for flu like symptoms. On Dec 1 he was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia and was transferred...
Looking back, my story began in June of 2013. I was enrolled in summer school at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and visited five different healthcare providers in three days seeking assistance for swelling in my throat and face, and difficulty breathing. The first four providers diagnosed strep throat. The fifth visit to the emergency room revealed my true diagnosis to be Ludwig’s Angina, a deep neck...
Yogiraj Charles Bates died from a hospital acquired venous thromboembolism (HA-VTE), the most common cause of hospital-related death in the United States. He was and continues to be revered for his extraordinary mind and loving nature by people around the world. His contributions as an author, entrepreneur, father, sage, master trainer and an unrelenting advocate for the human spirit will have a positive influence for many generations to come. Yogiraj’s...
Ten years ago, a young California political leader entered a Los Angeles hospital for gall bladder removal and bariatric surgery and died three days later with no cause given for his death. Lloyd Monserratt was a 36 year-old man who believed in community empowerment and social change. He was a Latino vote director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), director of constituency services at NALEO, and a chief of...
One day I woke up with a pain in my stomach. At first I thought I had the stomach flu or ate something bad, but as the day went on the pain got worse and it became apparent it might be appendicitis. I took an Uber to the ER in the middle of the night; they did a CT scan and ultrasound, rule out appendicitis, and decided a cyst must...
On July 10, 1996, we took our precious 11-year old son to the Children’s Hospital for what was to be a routine inguinal hernia surgery.  Daniel was no stranger to Children’s, having undergone three open heart surgeries there over the course of his short life.   Those surgeries went textbook; however, this one would prove to be our worst nightmare. During surgery, the attending anesthesiologist made not one, but several mistakes,...
This is a picture of Richie’s last birthday. He told us it was his Golden Birthday because he turned 27 on the 27th (of January).  He said his life would have good things ahead. Richie was well educated, graduating from the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in English and Journalism. He was funny, with a quick wit and always a smile. He was a loyal and loved...
My name is Maureen Robbins and I have a serious and disconcerting medical experience to share with you. It is an unsettling story of the tragic and untimely loss of my 84-year-old father, Joseph Karbelk, who was denied his rights as a patient, inappropriately restrained and incorrectly treated with chemical sedation in an emergency room and then, because of these events, failed to recover. A mere six weeks passed from...
At the time, I was working in the information services department at our local hospital. I was still at work when one of Drew’s older brothers called to tell me Drew had an accident on his skateboard. Drew grew up skateboarding around the neighborhood with his friends. They would go from house to house and skateboarding was how they got around. This night Drew lost control coming down a hill and fell backwards striking his head on...
My name is Brenda Ludens. I have been employed as a Respiratory Therapist for 23 years at a hospital in Sioux Falls, SD. My Mother, Norma Reiners, was a resident of a rehab unit in Sioux Falls from Aug. 27 to Oct. 13, 2014. At that point she was just four days from a scheduled return to her home following rehabilitation for a broken ankle. My mother celebrated her 85th...
It was a day in March when my mom, Kathy, casually mentioned to me that she had been having bloody urine for the past few weeks. I asked her if she had notified her physician and she casually stated, “No, I will just watch it.” After much discussion, I convinced her to call her doctor and make an appointment to discuss the issue. The appointment was made for the following...
“An underlying medical condition” is no excuse for lethal medical errors. Millie Niss was a much-published web artist and poet. She was my only child and a wonderful daughter. She was a talented patient advocate due to a lifetime of painful and debilitating illness, diagnosed as Behcet’s Disease in her early 30s. Behcet’s is a rare, auto-immune, inflammatory disease which causes vasculitis anywhere in the body. It is often characterized by severe...
My son Parker was very aware of others and how to help them. He often got teased himself because of his height, large 16 size feet and his big smile.  He would walk with the kids that he had noticed being bullied down the halls of his high school to help them feel safe. Parker had grown up with 3 older brothers and 4 younger siblings and was not afraid...
In 2012, Anna’s world turned upside down when she was diagnosed with bone marrow failure (myelodysplastic syndrome). This disease stemmed from her previous treatment for breast cancer; she was treated fifteen years earlier. At the time of her bone marrow failure diagnosis, everything else in her life seemed to be going well. She was a (single) mom to a high school aged son, whom she adored. She loved her job,...
This is not a motivating story nor is it a pretty one! However, it is a story that brings about awareness to a deadly and oftentimes fatal life threatening illness! It is the reason behind the “WHY” I do what I do! It is because of sepsis I’m so passionate about my health and that of others. Over the last 10 years, sepsis has reared its ugly head twice in...
Michael was diagnosed with the incurable bowel condition known as Crohn’s Disease as a 12-year-old. Having had over 25 surgeries Michael was left with 40cm of small bowel and intestinal failure. He remained in hospital for 18 months receiving all his food and drink via an intravenous feed known as total parenteral nutrition. Faced with no other alternative on October 8th, 2011 Michael became the 11th patient in the United Kingdom...
On an icy February day, a young man suffered a severe brain injury in a motorcycle accident. One of his healthy lungs was gifted to my dad, who was near death from pulmonary fibrosis. Dad’s nine-hour surgery at “Super Star” medical center, the #1 transplant unit in the world, went so well his doctors predicted he’d be out on the golf course by the 4th of July. A dozen preventable hospital acquired...