|Parents Melissa Driscoll and Danny Roche are suing the province of P.E.I. and doctors claiming negligence after baby Emma was brain damaged following three emergency trips to the hospital when she was eight months old. Emma shown here before the illness. (Photo courtesy of family)
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Melissa Driscoll knows the moment her and her fiance's lives were destroyed.
"About two hours after Emma was admitted, my eight-month-old baby suffered a cardiac arrest," Driscoll tearfully told a news conference here.
"A part of my baby died on February 1, 2011, and a big part of me died, as well."
Emma woke up from her nap two days earlier with a high fever, flushed cheeks and laboured breathing.
"I knew something was really wrong. When you spend all day every day with your child, you just know," Driscoll said.
The mom rushed Emma to the ER at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, asking the doctors if it could be croup.
"I was treated like an over-reacting panicked mother and was told she would have to be 'barking like a seal' for it to be croup," Driscoll said.
Court documents show that Dr. Kate Ellis-Ghiz, P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz's wife, was the first to see them and had diagnosed the child as having a fever and an upper-respiratory infection after ordering tests.
Mom and baby were sent home with orders to give Emma Tylenol and Advil and nasal flushes.
Emma got worse and Driscoll brought her back the next day.
A family friend told the news conferences that Driscoll had pleaded with the doctors to admit her infant because she was scared Emma could stop breathing and wanted her monitored in the hospital. She was sent home for the second time.
This time, documents show, doctors on staff had diagnosed the flu.
Later that night, Emma struggled for breath and became listless, Driscoll rushed Emma to the hospital for a third time. The baby turned blue and lost consciousness, and Driscoll cried for help.
Emma was finally diagnosed with severe croup by another doctor and was given oxygen. Emma suffered a heart attack before she was airlifted to Halifax.
She survived - but just barely.
Emma is now severely brain damaged. At two-years-old, she cannot walk, talk, sit up, eat or hold up her own head.
Driscoll and the baby's father, Danny Roche, are taking the doctors and the province to court, alleging negligence, among many other claims.
"Now, living in a neighbourhood full of young children and families is a daily torture," Driscoll said. "To hear kids outside laughing and playing breaks my heart, because my little girl will never know that sense of childhood happiness. Every time I hear a child calling out 'Mommy' it's like hearing a ghost, because that was Emma's first word, and she may never be able to say it again."
The couple hopes that by going public they can help warn and educate other parents.
"Parents need to know that they have the right to question a doctor's opinion. We are the ones who know in our gut when our children are really sick," Driscoll said.
Court documents filed in the province's defence claim that any injuries baby Emma suffered were the result of her parents not following doctors' instructions.
The doctors and the premier's office refused to comment on the case.