Archive for June, 2014

It’s a Mystery, When Did Pie Man Leave Us?

June 21st, 2014

I can’t blame you for not reading this post.  I certainly can’t blame you for not sharing it.  For the most part, this post is for me and my family but I publish it publicly because maybe someone, somewhere will be brave enough to read, brave enough to feel, brave enough to cry, and brave enough to let it affect them in a positive way, even if it’s to hug their kids or think twice about taking antibiotics for an ear infection.

Lets get started.

Taken June 21, 2008

Taken June 21, 2008

So if you know Wyatt’s Story, you know that he had an allergic reaction to Amoxicillin (the most common antibiotic prescribed for an ear infection), went into liver failure, was sent through a 30 day nightmare of hospitals and uncertainty (from May 22nd through June 22nd, 2008), then finally, ended up needing a liver transplant while under the care of the UCLA Medical Center which was in the top five “best hospitals in the country” in 2008 according to U.S. News.

What you may not know without reading the full, detailed story I wrote the day after he died, is that he was in line for a life-saving transplant that was certain to turn it all around but everything changed six years ago, the evening of June 21, 2008.

At this time, my wife Trisha was being prepped for being a live liver donor (which in itself is a crazy story we’ll need to share some day) so she was out of commission when it came to being with Wyatt at this point in the process.  She was going to go under the knife and save her sons life and this meant that she could not be there for him in his last few days.

My Dad and I were at the hospital to see Wyatt finally have to be “intubated” which is essentially, putting him under and giving him a tube down the throat to ensure he can breathe freely.  Keep in mind, he’s 9-months-old and his Father (me) and Grandfather (Grandpa John) are going to have to see this through by his side.  But something went very, very wrong and while it seemed at the time that things were corrected, I now believe that this moment quite possibly could’ve been the thing that cost him his life.  Here’s what I write in “Wyatt’s Story:  A Father’s Retelling of How the Health System and one of our Nations Best Hospitals Failed a 9 Month Old in Need of a Liver Transplant“.

“From what I understand, it is standard procedure to take an MRI of a patient who is recently intubated. But as they worked on getting him prepped and moved over to the portable bed, something began to happen. The nurse suddenly became very determined and focused. The help from the rest of the staff all began to closely monitor his numbers on the portable machine. The air was thick with tension. Something was wrong.

Wyatt’s oxygen saturation levels were dropping and they didn’t know why. They began fidgeting with the tube in his throat talking aloud about what could be going wrong. Several additional staff members began circling his area and it wasn’t long before he was being watched by a good half dozen staff members of the PICU, if not more. I just sat there, I felt the features of my face become that of someone who was in utter shock and horror. All the while, Wyatt, even though he was heavily sedated and continued to get a bunch of meds pumped into him in rapid succession, continued to move and jitter, almost as if he was trying to fight whatever it was that was bothering him.

It’s very hard for me to know exactly how much time had passed. It felt like hours, but probably wasn’t more than maybe a half an hour, maybe even less. There was something else… when they attempted to move him back to his bed, I remember seeing a moment where the staff held his body and lifted but his head was not supported. His head dropped quickly as it was very limp and heavy and I honestly don’t remember if it had hit anything, but I do remember thinking “yikes, careful!” One of the nurses said something about it, but didn’t seem all too concerned with the incident. But it definitely sticks out in my mind and little did I know that it would come full circle in the near future.

Finally, things began to calm down a bit. Wyatt was back in his bed (still not resting very peacefully, his hands and feet were continuing to move lightly yet sporadically). The doctors finally had a chance to tell me what was going on. Basically, for some reason he was now bleeding into his lungs. This is a problem for patients with acute liver failure because the liver controls clotting of the blood (among other things) and when the liver has failed far enough, internal bleeding can happen spontaneously or can even be caused by the littlest irritation.”

Remembering Pie Man before the hospital

Remembering Pie Man before the hospital

I now look back on this moment, this day six years ago and I’m pretty certain that THIS was the day Wyatt passed away although there’s no way I could ever prove it.  This was the moment that caught up to the Doctors at UCLA who for some reason, continued to run just ever so slightly behind the curve compared to Rady’s at San Diego and his family who continually advocated that the situation was more dire than it always seemed.  Reality had finally caught up to them in the form of blood in Wyatt’s lungs which I believe led to too much medication in attempt to try and save him which ultimately led to a neurological failure that we and “most” of the staff weren’t aware of until morning (and I won’t even get into the conspiracy theory stuff that we saw this night and the next, maybe a future post).

To conclude, I can’t prove it.  I never will.  But June 21st, 2008 will go down in my own memory and experience as the true day that Wyatt passed away.  The day that the Doctors finally caught up to what we were telling them but by then it was too late.  And while someday, I may tell you all the story of the smoke and mirrors they played with us that led to us realizing his fate on June 22nd, 2008, I will never forget the horror and fright we felt as these people fumbled and stumbled over Wyatt’s intubation on this evening six years ago.

To this day, I will be haunted by this event.  Haunted by dinner at BJs afterward.  Haunted by the chilled Patron martini I drank that night afterward with my brother.  Haunted by the feeling that this was the moment that the #3 best hospital in the U.S. completely imploded and lost my son right before my eyes as we hoped and dreamed of his life-saving transplant that never materialized the next day.

June 22nd, 2008 was the day we said good-bye, but I truly believe, June 21st, 2008 was the definitive outcome for WHY we had to say good-bye on June 22.

I sure love my Pie Man, I really wish he could be with us today.



These people cost a little boy his life and didn’t even say “sorry”…

June 14th, 2014

DSC01294If you follow the Wyatt Leamon Foundation or our family on Facebook, then you know that the anniversary of Wyatt’s passing is nearly upon us (June 22nd, 2014 is the 6th anniversary of his passing).  For us, it’s always a time of reflection and sadness and my next post will probably revolve around the meaning of dates because that one’s long overdue.  But in the meantime, I had a conversation with some co-workers and friends the other day that I thought I’d share.

We were discussing how my friend had moved into his brand-new house and how his new washer and dryer set had been delivered with a huge gash on it.  Upon dealing with the back-and-forth damage claims process, he was pretty outraged that the delivery guys claimed no responsibility for it.

It got me thinking… on a much more devastating level, the doctors at UCLA, the insurance company and the Pediatrician who prescribed the deadly antibiotic that conspired to take my sons life were like these delivery guys.  From the story he told, these guys weren’t evil people.  They were just doing their jobs, being human and probably, having to “tow the line”, corporate-style.  The time wasted, the anger from the dishonesty and the lack of ownership of the negative outcome took a toll on my friend which resulted in a pretty bad couple of days.

Zoom out to the scale of our tragic story and you essentially have the same story just at a different altitude and impact.  If you don’t know what I’m referring to, you probably want to check out Wyatt’s Story online to better understand what happened to our family and our little “Pie Man”.  But here’s the bullet-based cliff notes:

  • Wyatt had an ear infection and was prescribed an anti-biotic by his Pediatrician (he subsequently went into liver failure because of an allergic reaction to the medicine)
  • He was declared in need of a liver transplant in San Diego but his insurance company refused to cover the operation in SD and he had to be transferred to UCLA Medical Center
  • The UCLA Doctors essentially ignored the treatment history that took place in SD and started over, costing my son precious time to save his life and ultimately, he passed away under their watch before a liver transplant could take place

IMG00146The crazy part is, just like the story of my friend and his washer… the people who were responsible never ever said they were sorry!  Yes, you read that right.  Not once, not from our Pediatrician, our insurance company or the Doctors who watch Wyatt slowly whither away and die in front of our eyes never, ever once said that they were sorry.

Why?  Why why why why why???

I’m sure there’s some sort of liability protection bullshit that went on here but all I can say is that our family was left devastated.  A happy healthy boy ripped from his beautiful life and his devastated family watching it all happen despite the faith and trust they put into these people and the system that employs them.  And we didn’t even get an “our bad”, “I’m sorry”, “mea culpa”, “oops”, “we made a mistake”, “if only we had known…”.  Nothing.

In the end, we’re six years removed from the passing of our little Pie Man and this experience has given us so much to question, so much to consider, with a deep perspective that now shapes our new world in ways that no one could understand without having been there.  And out of the ashes I can’t say that we haven’t gone in great directions, with big victories and happy days for our family that I am proud to say could’ve been a pipe dream had we let these people destroy us given the circumstances for how we (and Wyatt) were wronged.

That being said, whether it’s a few bad days from a damaged washer or whether it’s a lifetime of sadness and reflection year in and year out due to this sad, preventable tragedy, the least these people could’ve said was:  “I’m sorry”.

I have a feeling we’ll be waiting a lifetime to hear those words from those involved.