Hope turned to despair for a San Luis Potosí family when a three-year-old girl who was found to be alive during her wake was pronounced dead for a second time.
Little Camila fell ill last Wednesday with symptoms including stomach pain, fever and vomiting, according to the girl’s mother, Mary Jane Mendoza Peralta.
Mendoza told the newspaper El Universal that she took her daughter to a pediatrician in the municipality of Villa de Ramos and that he advised her to take Camila to hospital because she was suffering from dehydration. The girl was taken to a community hospital in the neighboring municipality of Salinas, where she was treated with wet towels and suppositories.
“After an hour they gave her back to me, telling me that she was fine,” Mendoza said. “They prescribed two sachets of rehydration solution and 30 drops of paracetamol.”
The family followed the instructions but didn’t see any improvement in the girl’s health. They subsequently consulted another doctor who prescribed different medications, but Camila was unable to keep anything down, Mendoza explained.
After seeing yet another doctor, Camila was taken back to the community hospital in Salinas, to which she was admitted last Wednesday night. The three-year-old was put on a drip and given oxygen but was erroneously declared dead due to dehydration shortly after she was admitted.
“Ten minutes later … [she was] disconnected; they didn’t do an electrocardiogram,” Mendoza said, adding that her daughter embraced her when she picked her up. “I felt the strength of my girl [but] they took her from me and said, ‘Let her rest in peace,’” she said.
The next time Mendoza saw her daughter, she was in a coffin at her wake, held last Thursday. She noticed that the glass on the top of the coffin was fogged up – a sign that her daughter was breathing – but other mourners told her that she was hallucinating as a result of her loss.
Minutes later, according to an El Universal report, Mendoza’s mother-in-law noticed that Camila’s eyes were in fact moving. The girl was removed from the coffin and confirmed by a nurse attending the funeral to be still alive, with a heart rate of 97 beats per minute. The girl’s family called an ambulance, which took her to a hospital in San Luis Potosí city.
Her condition had deteriorated by the time she arrived, and doctors were unable to prevent her death. Subsequently — for the second time in two days — Camila was pronounced dead.
“It was there [in San Luis Potosí city] where [the life of] my baby really ended,” Mendoza said. “We’re devastated because my girl was a very happy person; she got along with everyone,” she said.
Mendoza told El Universal that she has two death certificates for her daughter: one issued in Salinas that states that the cause of death was dehydration and another issued in the state capital that says that Camila died due to cerebral edema.
“What I really want is for justice to be served,” she said. ”I don’t hold a grudge against [all] the doctors … I’m just asking them to change the doctors, nurses and directors [at the hospital in Salinas] so that this doesn’t happen again.”
State Attorney General José Luis Ruiz said that an investigation is underway, but Mendoza complained that she hasn’t been contacted by his office or by San Luis Potosí health authorities.
A similar case occurred a year ago in Coahuila, where a premature baby was mistakenly pronounced dead upon birth. Morgue personnel subsequently realized that the baby boy was in fact breathing, and his health stabilized for a period before he died four days after his birth.
With reports from El Universal