REFLECTION OF MY SMILE~
You are the
reflection of my smile
in what I do
With all you've
brought into my life
The very thought
I see you
standing in the midst,
those you loved
You are the
You are the
amidst the morning dew
I feel you
close to me
You are every
song that fills the air
You are everything
can I touch you
I feel much pain
now in heart and mind,
Until we meet
I long for
all those yesterdays,
You made everyday
As do you
make my every thought
You are the
reflection of my smile
THANK YOU PHILLIP
FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL POEM
PHILLIP & VIOLET'S PAGES
OF THEIR SON, CHRISTOPHER
CORNER - NEWSPAPER ARTICLES~
had just celebrated his first birthday when he died on September 11, 1990.
Matthew was born 8 weeks early and weighed only 2 lb. 12 oz. At birth
he was diagnosed with a heart problem and also with a problem with his
urethra. When he was two months old temporary surgery for his heart
was performed. We were told that when he was older they would be
able to perform permanent surgery. The surgery to correct the problem
with his urethra could not be performed until after his first birthday.
almost three months in the neo-natal unit at Mt. Sinai Hospital Matthew
was finally coming home, just in time for Christmas.
I didn't know that Matthew's first Christmas would also be his last.
Despite Matthew's medical problems he was one of the happiest babies I
had ever seen. Matthew was gaining weight and his doctors were very
pleased with his progress.
of Matthew's doctors were at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. Prior
to Matthew's urological surgery he was examined by their pediatric urologist.
Shortly after that she took another position at another hospital.
It was decided that Matthew would have his surgery at Maimonides Hospital
in Brooklyn. The doctor that was going to perform the surgery was
one of the top pediatric urologists in the country and Maimonides Hospital
was supposed to be one of the best in New York. Although at first
we were upset that the surgery could not be done at Mt. Sinai my husband
and I were confident that Matthew would be in good hands.
to surgery the urologist told us that due to Matthew's heart problem there
was a chance that he would not handle the anesthesia well and if that was
to happen he would not be able to complete the surgery and Matthew would
have to come back at a later date so that the surgery could be completed.
He also told us that Matthew would need to stay in the hospital for a few
days just to be on the safe side so that he could be monitored for his
was admitted to Maimonides the day before the surgery. Thinking back
the first sign that I had that things may not go so well was when they
lost Matthew's blood sample twice. But I thought that although
the lab people may be incompetent the surgeon was one of the best and the
hospital had a very high rating.
Matthew was brought
to surgery the next morning and our wait began. After surgery the
doctor spoke with us and told us that he couldn't be happier with the way
the surgery went. It turned out that he was able to do the surgery
being noninvasive and he was able to complete it. He also told
us that Matthew did so well that there was no reason he could not go home
the next day. The relief that my husband and I felt can only
be compared to having someone lift a ten ton weight off your chest.
My husband and I had no reason to believe at that point that anything could
or would go wrong. We were told that Matthew was still in recovery
and visitors were not allowed but that he would be brought back to his
so we began our wait for Matthew to be brought back to his room.
As each hour passed and there was still no Matthew the relief that we felt
earlier was slowly fading Every time we would ask where Matthew
was they would tell us that they would go and see what the delay was.
They would be gone for quite awhile and upon their return they would tell
us he would be right down. This went on for about 5 hours.
Finally my husband and I demanded to see Matthew and told them that we
were going to the recovery room regardless of what anyone said. At
that point they finally brought Matthew down from recovery. As soon
as I saw him I knew without a doubt that he was in very serious trouble.
I still didn't realize that within a few hours my beautiful little boy
would be dead.
was having trouble breathing and when I asked the nurse what had happened
and why did it seem that he was having a hard time breathing, her response
was, "Honey, don't you know that he just had surgery?' How I didn't
smack her in her face I'll never know and sorry now that I didn't.
I told one of the resident doctors that I wanted a cardiologist to look
at Matthew. Instead of bringing Matthew to his room they took him
to a small intensive care unit on the same floor. They told us it
was just for precaution and there was no need to worry. We were told
that the cardiologist had been paged and they were waiting for him to respond.
While I was waiting for the cardiologist I called Matthew's pediatrician
and he told me that he would come to the hospital as soon as he could.
Before Matthew could have surgery he had to have medical clearance from
his cardiologist and also from his pediatrician. Matthew had been
to the pediatrician's office less than a week before the surgery for medical
clearance and yet during his deposition his pediatrician sat at the table
across from me and said that he didn't know Matthew was having surgery.
He claimed that the first he heard that Matthew had surgery was when I
had called him from the hospital.
called Matthew's cardiologist at Mt. Sinai and he asked to speak with the
resident doctor. The resident doctor said that she would call him
back which wasn't until it was too late for anyone to do anything to save
Matthew. I didn't call the surgeon because I assumed that the hospital
did, usually when there is a problem with a patient after surgery, the
surgeon is the first person called. I kept wondering what was
taking the surgeon so long to arrive at the hospital. It wasn't until
right before Matthew died that he came running down the hall and his first
words to us were, "They just called me and I swear to you that when I left
him he was all right."
the situation wasn't so tragic it would have actually been funny.
Instead of taking care of Matthew the attending doctor was too busy telling
a nurse that while he was playing golf the day before he got hit in the
head with a golf ball and had to get stitches. When I kept asking
where the cardiologist was they told me that they paged him a few times
and didn't know why he didn't answer or where he was. When the cardiologist
finally came into the room he walked over to the crib, looked at Matthew,
looked at me and then my husband and very casually walked away. He
went over to the nurse and whispered something in her ear and left the
room. I found out later that what he told her was that he didn't
want to get involved in what was going on and refused to take care of my
were starting to collapse and his IV fell out. It was very important
for him to have fluids and also his heart medication. After several
attempts to insert the IV they decided that they would just wait until
it was time to give him his pain medication. My husband and I kept
telling them that they couldn't wait because Matthew needed to have his
heart medication. But everything we said fell on deaf ears.
husband and I have no medical training yet we were telling the doctors
what to do. When they couldn't get the IV back in we told them to
put in an arterial line. They were giving him oxygen with a mask
that a 3 year old would wear so he was losing all the oxygen he was getting.
When his oxygen saturation started to drop considerably they told us that
I told them that because of Matthew's heart problem his oxygen saturation
was lower than normal. What I told them was that is saturation usually
was around 95%, I never told them that 60% was normal. And even if
I had, they were the doctors and certainly should have known that 60% was
not normal for anyone. When the pediatrician finally came to the
hospital he stood in back of the room with us and every few minutes he
would say I don't know what happened here but you can be sure that I will
find out. Every time we would tell them what they should be doing
they just looked at us as if were crazy. The nurse did everything
in her power to get us to leave the room but all of her efforts failed.
I remember a few times my husband looked at me and said, "I think that
Matthew is dying." I couldn't and didn't want to hear it let
alone believe it.
don't remember at what point the doctors finally woke up and within seconds
there were doctors all over the room. It seemed as if they had came
out of the woodwork. Now everyone was running around trying to save
Matthew. They sent someone to get the blood that had been reserved
for Matthew in case it was needed during surgery. Well I guess I
don't have to tell you that I am still waiting for the person to return.
They sent someone for a portable x-ray machine and it took almost an hour
for him to return. Finally, after hours of telling them to call Matthew's
cardiologist at Mt. Sinai they did but I knew that it was too late.
As much as I wanted to keep Matthew with us I was smart enough to know
that if he lived he would without a doubt be severely brain damaged.
He would most likely be a vegetable. He had been denied the proper
amount of oxygen for so long that there was no way that he could be all
finally called Matthew's cardiologist at Mt. Sinai and he was telling
the doctors what to do and he was yelling so loud that we could hear him
from where we were standing in the back of the room. It seemed that
whatever he was telling them to do they would do the opposite.
It was at this point that they started CPR and then I knew that we would
never bring Matthew home again. His first birthday would be
his last birthday. I wondered how just hours earlier my baby was
smiling and moving and now he was so close to death and there was nothing
that I could do to save him. As much as I wanted Matthew to live
he would have had no quality of life and I loved him too much to have to
watch him suffer and struggle his whole life. We requested that CPR
be stopped but were told that they had to continue. The only reason
they had to continue was to show that they tried to save him. Kind
of ironic, don't you think, considering that they were the ones who
let him die? Finally the surgeon asked me if I wanted them to stop
all life saving efforts and I told him yes. He was the only one who
respected my wishes.
for the surgeon and the nurse all the doctors walked out of the room and
not one of them said that they were sorry. They walked out as if
nothing had happened and it was back to business as usual. I know
that doctors cannot become emotionally involved with their patients, but
not to even say, "I'm sorry," was inhumane. They told us because
Matthew died within 24 hours of having surgery there would have to an autopsy
- this was a New York State Law. As much as we didn't want an autopsy
we knew that we had to have one because we needed to know what happened.
If I live to be a 100 years old I can never put into words the feeling
I had as I left the hospital that night. I never imagined in a million
years that this day would end with Matthew's death.
following morning my husband called the hospital to inquire as to where
Matthew's body was. They told him that he would be happy to hear
that there would be no autopsy. It was then that all sorts of bells
starting going off in our heads. My husband called the medical examiner's
office and asked if he could request an autopsy and he was told that he
remember thinking that his birth certificate wasn't even wrinkled or yellow
yet and he already would have a death certificate. How could a one
year old have a death certificate? I just couldn't comprehend it
- it just didn't make sense. I wondered how so many incompetent
doctors could be in the same place at the same time. One day I realized
that it was impossible that all of these doctors were incompetent.
The only other explanation was that Matthew's dying was by design.
It was the only thing that made sense. Although I can never prove
it I will tell you what I think happened and you can form your own opinion.
I think that because of Matthew's heart problem they gave him too much
anesthesia and took him off the respirator too soon. Matthew
suffered severe brain damage and they were waiting for him to die in the
recovery room. Because of all the pressure we were putting on them
they had no choice but to bring him back to his room. If my
husband and I knew what to do, how could these doctors, with all of their
medical training not know what to do?
couldn't understand how a doctor could refuse to take care of someone who
needed help. I believe that he knew what the plan was and that is
why at first he didn't answer his page. When we kept telling them
to page him, he had no choice but to come to the room. He knew before
he walked into the room that he had no intention of treating Matthew.
There was no way he was going to be a part of it, but that in no way justifies
what he did. Even if he knew he could not do anything to save Matthew,
as a doctor it is his responsibility to give medical care to whomever is
in need of it.
soon became apparent that Matthew's fate was based on dollars and cents.
After we filed a lawsuit we learned that the law has a limit on the value
of an infant's life. If Matthew died and the hospital was found liable
they would only be responsible for $100,000. If Matthew lived and
was severely retarded it could cost them millions of dollars over
the course of his lifetime. They did what was more cost effective
for them and that was to let Matthew die.
main purpose of our lawsuit was for the hospital and the doctors to be
held accountable for they did to Matthew. And we also hoped that
we would prevent this from ever happening to someone else. As time
went by I realized how naive I was. We had two medical experts review
Matthew's hospital records and both said that there was no reason Matthew
had to die. This type of surgery is done everyday on children who
have the same heart problem as Matthew. So even with his heart problem
it was safe for him to have the surgery. This was just the beginning
of a three year nightmare.
were told that because we were in the room we would have to give depositions
to the hospital and doctors insurance company. I have to give them
credit they did their best to turn Matthew into a freak of nature.
I don't think that there was any sickness, ailment or deformity that they
didn't claim Matthew had. They even tried to imply that my husband
and I were somehow responsible for Matthew's death. They were hoping
that if they could prove any of what they said that we would not win the
lawsuit. I guess because they weren't in my position they didn't
know that I could never win. I had lost my son and nothing
I did or any amount of money would ever bring him back. They did
their best to try to intimidate us but, unfortunately, for them, we weren't
almost three years our attorney advised us that our case would never go
to trial and we were to appear before the judge. The day we appeared
before the judge I was very angry. Angry because we had to settle
but mostly because nobody cared that Matthew had died. They didn't
care because Matthew wasn't their son but they should have cared because
Matthew was someone's son. Didn't they know or care that when Matthew died
it was not only my life and my husband's life that was effected but the
lives of everyone that had been a part of his life? The first thing
that the judge said to us was that his son had been at Maimonides a few
years earlier and within 24 hours after he was admitted his wife signed
him out and took him to another hospital. That statement said it
all. He then went on to say, "You know what they did, I know what
they did and they without a doubt knew what they did." Somehow
that just wasn't enough but I knew that was all that I was going to get.
Because I couldn't prove that Matthew's death was deliberate the doctors
involved would not even get a slap on the hand. He told us
that the law did not require them to admit any wrongdoing and that all
the law required was that they pay money. I knew at that point that
my battle was over and I was saddened by the fact that with all that my
husband and I tried to do nothing had changed. The doctors would
still be out there and there was a very good chance that they would do
it to someone else's child. I had hoped and prayed that out
of Matthew's death something good would happen but now I could see that
only thing left for us to do was to write to the Department of Health and
to the oversight agencies that are supposed to be there to help you with
problems with doctors and hospitals. It took a 26 page letter to
explain everything that happened the night Matthew died. When they
responded they told us that they could not find any wrongdoing on the part
of the hospital or the doctors. When the question was raised about
the doctor who refused to take care of Matthew they told us he did nothing
wrong. It didn't make any sense to me. My husband wrote more
letters and when they responded again they told us that they had
found some infractions but due to the privacy law they could not tell us
what they were or what action they would take to correct it.
Matthew died I believed in the justice system and the famous saying, "justice
for all." After his death I learned that justice is not for all but
for a very small few and most crimes go unpunished. The oversight
agencies that are supposed to help protect you from the wrongdoing of the
doctors and hospital really exist to protect the doctors and the hospitals.
It is now almost
13 years since Matthew died and the void that has been left in my heart
and my life can never be filled. I have had to learn to live my life
without Matthew and that has been one of the hardest things I have had
to do. I know that there is nothing that I could do to bring Matthew
back and for a long time I felt responsible. But in reality I know
that I did the best I could. How could I have known what was going
to happen? I thought that he was getting the best medical care possible.
But some times we feel the need to take responsibility because no one else
does. At one time those that committed crimes were held responsible
and accountable for their actions. At one time the criminals had
no rights and maybe that wasn't fair, but it certainly is not fair that
now, victims not only have no rights but also no recourse. It just
doesn't seem right, I am the victim and I have been sentenced to a life
of pain. No matter what, my life is forever changed, and it angers
me to know that nothing has changed in the lives of those that were responsible
for Matthew's death.
PLACE IN HEAVEN~
"IN GOD'S HANDS"
WAS CREATED BY
AND IS MAINTAINED
BY PATRICIA KUSILA