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Coroner Confirms What Grieving Mother Already Knew: Hospital Killed Son with Breakfast

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Asthma is a terrible affliction, and no one knows that more surely than the parent of a child suffering from the disease, a parent who simply wants his little one to draw an easy breath.

In his novel “Peace Like a River,” Leif Enger deftly captured the asthmatic’s struggle, writing how “your breaths are sips” and “the air gets close and sticky all around.”

Gabrielle Catan of Victoria, Australia, was well aware of the pain and dangers of asthma.

It was the reason why her teenage son, Louis Tate, had stayed overnight in Melbourne’s Frankston Hospital in October 2015.

Louis recovered from his asthma attack well enough. In fact, he likely would’ve come home from the hospital soon after.

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But as he took a single spoonful of Weet-Bix the next morning, something horrible happened: His throat immediately began to swell.

See, Louis was one of the many people worldwide who are deathly allergic to milk, nuts, and eggs. In fact, Catan had personally instructed the hospital to serve him an allergen-free cereal.

Though Franklin Hospital had apparently done so, something had gone wrong. For one reason or another, Louis’ food had gotten exposed to a food that prompted his allergic reaction.

Nurses immediately administered a dose of adrenaline, and then another and another — and another. But none of them worked.

A crisis was building, and eventually medical staff had to anesthetize Louis and insert a breathing tube into his windpipe.

That, though, was the moment that every parent’s nightmare came true.

Louis had an additional reaction to the anesthetic, which caused something called malignant hyperthermia, a condition characterized by a spiking fever and racing heart. Tragically, the 13-year-old boy did not pull through.

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“Save for the intervening event, the reaction to the anesthetic agent resulting in malignant hypothermia, Louis would have survived and been discharged home well,” wrote Coroner Phillip Byrne, who released his findings about the boy’s death on February 27. “Therein lies the cruelest irony.”



Catan and Louis’ father, Simon Tate, plan to sue the hospital over the incident. However, they also hope their child’s death can bring great awareness to the community at large.

“We’re satisfied the coroner has actually confirmed something that we always knew — that there were allergens in the breakfast that Louis had,” Tate told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“At the end of the day, it’s well known that Melbourne is one of the allergy capitals of the world, so how is it possible in a public health system that we have this type of circumstance?”

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
Education
Wheaton College
Location
Florida
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Entertainment, Faith, Travel




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