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 the same time, my seventeen-month-old son, Josh, had his seat belt snap and was ejected from our minivan as it tumbled down the highway after impact. Volunteers who arrived on the scene found Josh strapped in his car seat about 50 feet away from where our van had come to a stop.
Josh was taken to our local hospital in Southwest Georgia and moved from there, via a helicopter, to a larger hospital in Savannah, Georgia. For the next four days, our family would watch and pray for his continued recovery as we looked to move beyond the loss of his mother, Sarah. On day four his doctor informed me that Josh had a severe head injury but had continued to show steady improvement throughout his time in their care. He even hoped that Josh would improve enough to be a part of the upcoming trip to Middle Tennessee for the burial of his mother. His nine-year-old brother, Harrison, and his six-year-old sister, Abby, would pray each night that their little brother was safe and that he would soon be well enough to rejoin us.
So, it was with great shock that I received that phone call on the morning of day five. Doctors were asking that my family drop everything and get to the hospital as quickly as we possibly could. For us, that would be a 2-1/2-hour trip that would seem like forever. Upon arrival, we were greeted by doctors and administrators who asked us to meet with them in a conference room before they would allow us to go back to Josh’s room. It was in that conference room that the crumbling of my neat little world would reach its pinnacle. I was informed that a pharmacist’s error had resulted in a medication mistake. My son had received five times the amount of phenytoin needed for head seizures that he was having. Five times! I was lead into the room where I watched him die that day. I looked on as doctors made one last attempt to keep him alive but to no avail.
I decided two things that day. My son’s death would not be in vain; God would enable me to do something to bring good from the loss of my two family members. And I would do whatever I could with my story to help keep others from experiencing the needless pain I experienced that day. Mistakes happen. I get that. Health care workers are human. But mistakes don’t have to touch our loved ones. We must do everything we can to make sure that every preventable error becomes a distant memory. Every life matters; every half-second counts!