Ginger McCall can’t understand why the hospital sent an obviously sick infant home.
As KGW News reports, the mom from Salem, Oregon had given birth to her first child, Evianna Rose, only seven weeks before.
She and her husband had waited a long time to have children and announced the pregnancy with a photo at the top of Mt. Elbert in Colorado. McCall says they took Evianna’s sonogram photo with them everywhere.
Evianna was a healthy and happy baby. But at 7 weeks old, she suddenly developed a fever and had difficulty breathing. McCall told KPTV:
“She was making this really terrible mewing, moaning noise. Like a kind of repetitive, it was like a weak cry.”
The worried mom took her baby to the emergency room, where Evianna was given a saline drip and Tylenol while the staff ran a few basic blood tests. McCall told the staff that she had tested positive for Group B Strep while pregnant with Evianna, but her warning appeared to have been ignored.
McCall was told that Evianna had a virus, but that they weren’t sure what the virus was. They discharged the infant by early afternoon, making it clear they didn’t think her condition was serious. McCall told KPTV:
“I will never forget the nurse saying to me, ‘This is her immune system getting stronger. This is her getting stronger.’ And it wasn’t. It was her dying. Every minute that they delayed, every minute that they didn’t conduct the tests that they should’ve conducted, every minute that we spent driving between places. That mattered. It mattered.”
Even when the hospital was discharging Evianna, it was clear that she was not improving. McCall told KGW:
“A baby at 7 weeks being discharged from the emergency room with still a temperature and still listlessness. I mean, that should not have happened.”
Back home, the baby’s condition continued to deteriorate. She began to vomit, and the moaning cry she made got worse.
McCall took her daughter back to the hospital. That’s when Evianna crashed, and things began to fall apart. Doctors worked desperately to revive the infant, then transferred her to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. Meanwhile, McCall wasn’t sure what was happening with her child.
“I understand they were in crisis mode, but they didn’t clearly communicate to myself or my mother-in-law, who was with me, what was going on,” she told KGW. “We were sort of pushed aside and left in the dark, and before I knew it, she was intubated and unconscious.”
At the hospital in Portland, they finally got a diagnosis. Evianna had developed meningitis and sepsis from late-onset Group B Strep.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four pregnant women carry Group B Strep, which can be passed on to the baby at birth. To prevent this, doctors give IV antibiotics to women who tested positive during labor and delivery.
There are two types of Group B Strep infection in newborns, early-onset (during the first week of life) and late-onset (from the second week through the first three months of life). Both types can result in sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis, but meningitis is more common with a late-onset infection.
Symptoms of Group B Strep disease include fever, lethargy, difficulty breathing, a blue-ish tone to the skin, and difficulty breathing. Group B Strep International adds that the cry of a baby who has the infection is distinctive and can include constant moaning or grunting. The organization provides examples of those cries on its website.
By the time Evianna was diagnosed, it was too late. She died fewer than 48 hours after her mom had taken her to the hospital for the first time.
“I woke up at about 5 [a.m.] and I could hear alarms going off and I said to my husband I think we need to let her go. And so they unplugged her and they took us out into the courtyard and they handed her to us and I was holding her when she died.”
McCall is heartbroken and frustrated that she lost her daughter so soon — and to a disease that could have been treated if caught earlier.
“It was just so sudden, and it seems like it should have been preventable,” she said. “That noise she was making, I wish they had paid more attention.”
The mom is now urging other parents to speak up and make sure they’re heard when it comes to their children’s health. She told KGW that she wasn’t able to get through to the ER staff on her first visit:
“Don’t assume they know or they’ve noticed the same thing you’ve noticed. And I mean, it’s your child. Trust your instincts. Advocate for yourself.”
McCall and her husband are struggling to come to terms with the loss of their only child and the fact that they will never get to see her grow up:
“She was beautiful. I know it’s really a silly thing to focus on, but I will never know what color her eyes would have been. I will never know who she was going to be,” the mom said. “I will never stop missing her, and I will never stop being sad that I didn’t get to know the girl, the young woman, and woman she would have been. I mean, I think she would have been incredible.”