Toddler's Hand Severely Damaged after IV Slips Out of Vein. Mom Blames Hospital


A toddler from Canada should be at home with her mother, recovering from surgery to repair a hole in her heart. Instead, 3-year-old Emmy Gunther is still in the hospital, waiting for a skin graft on her hand, which was severely damaged by a misplaced intravenous line.

Emmy’s mother, Jalena Gunther, describes her daughter as outgoing, spunky, and fun. Emmy was born with Down syndrome and uses sign language to communicate.

Emmy was also born with a hole in her heart, and on Jan. 16, had open-heart surgery at the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

All seemed well post-surgery, until nightfall, when Emmy became agitated and began to cry.

Gunther’s initial suspicion was that Emmy was simply tired and in pain after her ordeal, and needed some rest. But Emmy soon became inconsolable, crying all night long.

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While the night staff came to check the IV pump and give Emmy another dose of pain relief, none of the nurses physically assessed Emmy’s body.

Emmy’s grandmother urged the staff to bring a doctor to Emmy’s room, but her request was seemingly dismissed or forgotten.

“No one seemed concerned that she was in pain, other than my mom,” said Gunther, who had left the hospital to get some rest herself. “No one checked her out.”

When the day shift nurse assessed Emmy the next morning, she found out why the poor baby had been crying all night in pain. The IV had slipped out of Emmy’s vein, pumping fluids under her delicate toddler skin for hours.

We’re not talking some minor swelling or bruising — we’re talking serious decay to Emmy’s flesh, which will likely have long-term consequences. The toddler was immediately rushed into surgery to remove the dead skin and will need a skin graft.

Of course, Emmy’s mother is sickened over the hospital’s oversight, as Emmy’s IV complication was completely preventable. But she is even more concerned that Emmy will lose the ability to effectively use her hand.

“My biggest worry is that her only speech is sign language,” Gunther expressed. “If she loses use of that hand, she loses half of her ability to communicate.”

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“It’s very likely that she’ll have reduced sensation, very likely that she may not be able to make a fist or hold stuff in her hand,” Gunther explained. “It will all depend on how she heals.”

The hospital has issued an apology to the family and is committed to investigating their failure.

While it’s sadly too late to erase what happened to Emmy, her mother hopes the hospital will learn from their terrible blunder and keep future kids safe.

“We never want another person to ever go through what Emmy is,” Gunther wrote on Facebook. “And we hope the Stollery hospital will work to rectify this.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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