Malyia Jeffers, 2, recently had to have her hands and feet amputated after a battle with a Streptococcus A infection. The question is: Would it have been preventable if she hadn't had to wait in an emergency room for more than five hours -- five hours during which her parents begged staff to see her and watched their daughter deteriorate before their eyes? It's a painful question to ponder and unthinkable to imagine how her life could have been changed forever had someone just listened and tended to the girl.
According to reports, her illness started with a fever and some lethargy. When she didn't improve, her parents took her to an urgent care center, who sent them directly to the emergency room. She spiked a high fever and started showing bruise-like spots.
Her father, Ryan Jeffers, said he continued to ask staff to attend to his daughter, but was put off hour after hour before finally "ambushing" a nurse.
By the time she was finally seen by a doctor, she was in liver failure and in septic shock. She was flown via helicopter to Stanford University's hospital. There she was put on life support, and eventually her hands and feet had to be removed to save her life.
Dr. Deborah Franzon, a doctor at Stanford, told the Daily Mail that it's "unclear" if they could have been saved if she was seen any sooner. The fact that there's any question that they could have been is infuriating, and heartbreaking, and yet another sign of how much need for reform there is in our current health care system.
Even more frightening is to think what could have happened had the father not finally gotten aggressive. It's a tragic example of how we as parents have to be such champions for our children's health and follow our instincts. While none of us knows what we would have done in a similar situation, there are times when we have to make fuss, demand to be heard, and not necessarily play nice when it comes to our children's health.
No one wants to be the crazy hypochondriac parent who panics about every sniff and digit on the thermometer, but neither can we ignore -- or let doctors ignore -- our parental instincts when we know our children need help.
As for Malyia's family, Ryan Jeffers says they have learned that lesson well, and while they're angry, they're currently focused on her healing -- she's still on a ventilator and kidney dialysis.
"I'm angry, but I can't deal with that right now," he said. "I just want my daughter to get better."
Best wishes to Malyia and her family.
Have you ever had to really fight for health care for your child?
Image via sacbee.com