Mom searches for answers after surgery leaves 10-year-old blind, paralysed
Luchane Stewart is still trying to come to terms with the condition of her 10-year-old son, Rushaun Dixon, who has been left blind and paralysed since undergoing a medical procedure to remove gall stones.
Stewart said she decided to make her issue public after several attempts to get a "proper explanation" from the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St James, or the Ministry of Health were unsuccessful.
Rushaun, the last of her four children, suffered from joint pains and was diagnosed with a medical disorder when he was eight months old.
"In fact, [since he was born], Rushaun has been hospitalised four times," a distraught Stewart told The Gleaner.
"Academically, he was not a brilliant child. He was not doing well, but he could manage. Now, he cannot do anything for himself. He is in Pampers (diapers), he cannot walk, cannot stand up ... . We have to do everything for him," Stewart said.
"Before he did the operation, he was a normal child in the community. He played football and rode bicycle like a normal child did."
She said it became necessary for Rushaun, a student of Hague Infant and Primary School in Trelawny, to have an operation to remove gall stones that were said to be the cause of frequent abdominal pains he was experiencing.
The operation was done on June 10, 2014. That was the beginning of her nightmare.
"I got suspicious when Rushaun did not wake in the stipulated time given after the surgery - as much as three hours - and when I went to check to see what was happening, I was just in time to see Rushaun kicking out, bending his fingers and his eyes rolling over," claims the 42-year-old Stewart.
"When I asked what was happening, I was told he was okay, [that] he's just waking up. But he never recovered and was at the hospital for almost three months. After that, he was discharged ... blind and crippled."
NO NEGLIGENCE, SAYS DOC
Dr Delroy Fray, senior medical officer at the Montego Bay-based hospital, has stoutly refuted any suggestion of negligence on the part of his doctors.
"I am fully aware of the matter from the discussion stage to the very end," he told The Gleaner.
"I examine the file on each case dealt with by my team to see if I agree with the decisions that are to be taken.
"I personally can understand how they feel if you have a child and things end up like this, and while I cannot discuss the details of this case, ... the summary of this case is that the child came for an operation that was necessary, but there were certain ... [complications which could arise], and all this was explained to the family of the patient prior to the medical procedure," said Fray.
"The patient developed a recognised complication of the operation," he said.
"It has nothing to do with negligence. All the necessary pre-operative precautions that were necessary to deal with those ... [complications] were dealt with, and all the post-ops," Fray continued.
"It is just unfortunate that things end up like this, but it is a recognised complication," he added. "I cannot blame them because if I were in their position, I would search and search to see what can be done. However, I can say without the shadow of a doubt that the specialists at Cornwall Regional Hospital are well trained and very dedicated. I am sure all precautions were taken ... . We are not happy that this happened, but everyone was aware of the risk."
The family has met six times with the hospital administration but says the talks have been unfruitful.
"All we got from the doctors was runaround and statements attempting to insult our intelligence," Stewart said.
"They are saying the same things over and over ... . They cannot say if he will recover - that we have to give it some time."
The hospital administrators also advised the family that an MRI scan that cost $45,000 was required and offered to pay half the cost.
NOT ADMITTING LIABILITY
However, Dr Fray was quick to point out that such an offer was not an admission of liability on his medical team's part.
"The ministry does this on numerous occasions. If a patient comes in off the street and needs an investigation that will help us with our assessment of the care of the patient and you can't afford it, the ministry will pay for it, so it's not only for this case," he said.
However, Stewart who is unemployed, says the family is currently struggling to cope with the expenses and has to depend on Rushaun's father, who does odd jobs to make ends meet.
"Rushaun does physiotherapy every two weeks. There are appointments for several other examinations to be done, and they all come with a cost. Plus, because of his condition, he cannot go on public transportation, which is an additional $4,000 each time," she said.
"My child is suffering and it is putting a burden on me financially - not to mention emotionally - in caring for him," she said.
"I need some help because it is very unfair to have to be going through this when it was at the hands of doctors who were supposed to be capable enough as it should have been a routine surgery," Stewart added.