By Laura Kemp • 17 April 2020 • 16:31
ON April 2 in the Andalucian capital of Sevilla, a five-month old baby died of appendicitis. Her parents, who watched her symptoms evolve since March 29, asked the health department for help, however given the stress of the coronavirus crisis, they did not receive the help they needed.
This case has already fallen into the hands of the Prosecutor’s Office thanks to the fact that they have been supported by the Carmen Flores’ Association of Patient Advocates. Flores herself has confirmed that they are still waiting for a response from the Prosecutor’s Office about going to court and that “they have accumulated a large number of cases” who find themselves in a similar situation. “Once it goes to court, families have to appear with a lawyer and attorney,” she explains.
The tragedy began in Dos Hermanas, Sevilla on March 29. The parents of a five-month-old baby began to realise that their daughter had an increasingly high fever ranging from 37 to 39 degrees which terribly alarmed them.
“We thought about taking her to the health centre, but with all the troubles going on, we decided to wait one more day. We called 112 but they also told us to wait,” explained the parents.
The next day, the symptoms were still prevalent, so they took their baby to the San Hilario health centre. “There were two paediatricians, and the truth is that they were already finishing their day, they treated us a little badly, but they ended up treating us in the emergency department,” they explained.
Once they managed to be attended, there was an incident that, in their opinion, was decisive to the final outcome. “The paediatrician asked us what’s wrong, we told him and he barely explored the baby. He looked at her throat, took her fever and told us that she has a good colour, and that we should not worry so much. She says that she must be incubating something, some virus, which is normal in a baby, but that we should keep calm: that we should continue to administer her paracetamol, and bathe her and clothe her well to lower the fever, and that’s it,” explained the parents.
Their concern was increasing by the minute and they felt more and more unprotected in the hands of the health system. On April 1 at 7.00am they made a call to 112 when they observed that the girl was still feverish. They asked for the transfer to a hospital or health centre, but they were recommended not to do it due to the danger that this could imply if they caught the coronavirus. Finally, at around 11.00am they managed to speak to a paediatrician over the phone.
“He looked at the medical history and, to our surprise, he told us that the previous paediatrician had highlighted: ‘Gastroenteritis.’ But he hasn’t told me about gastroenteritis … Why haven’t they told us? Why did they not say before? It is the fact that she still has a fever that I do not think is normal, it would be good if they do more tests to see what is wrong,” retells the mother. However, this doctor’s response was similar to the previous doctor who said they should calm down and that a fever can last from three to five days and that they should simply bathe and administer paracetamol to the child.
The tragedy ended on April 2. “Around 11.30 we saw that her belly was beginning to swell, that we thought at the time it could be gases, but suddenly she began to have seizures … We were very scared, we took her as fast as we could to the San Hilario health centre,” explained the parents.
Once they entered the hospital they were attended to quickly, however, the situation was already very complicated, and it was too late. First, she had a cardiorespiratory arrest, and they managed to get her out of it, but they called 061 themselves, because they said they had no resources to attend to that. Then they took her in an ambulance to the Virgen de Valme Hospital.
Finally, they conclude: “When we arrived, a nurse came out and took me to a small room. There they told me that she had died, that when he entered the hospital she had suffered her second cardiorespiratory arrest, and that they had not been able to save her. They then told us what she had died of: appendicitis. She was about to turn six months old.”
The family, who prefer to remain anonymous, explained that they seek justice and that a case like this should never be repeated: “We understand that the situation is extraordinary and difficult for everyone, for the doctors and also for others … But they didn’t know how or didn’t want to treat my daughter. They were so dedicated to the coronavirus that they forgot about everything else. We want to see some sort of justice done.”
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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