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, we would later find out. First of all, she set the anesthetic too high for too long (almost as if Daniel were having another open heart procedure). Then, while she placed a blood pressure cuff on Daniel’s arm, she never reset the blood pressure machine to read it. (As we understood it, normal surgery protocol calls for a blood pressure reading every 2-3 minutes; Daniel’s machine was never reset to give out those numbers.) And then, she left the room, leaving a nurse anesthetist student in charge.
Eleven minutes into the surgery, the surgeon noticed things didn’t look right. Upon questioning the student as to Daniel’s status, the student realized the blood pressure numbers had not changed during those 11 minutes, and he hit the “reset” button. Daniel’s blood pressure was 34/13. Immediately he coded, and even though the “crash team” got his heart going again, the damage to his brain due to a lack of oxygen was significant and global…and our precious, active, energetic little boy was given back to us severely brain damaged.
Today, as a grown man, Daniel has extremely limited vision, speech, and motor skills. He walks only with a great deal of assistance and cannot take care of his needs by himself at all. He requires 24-hour assistance.