Following the threat of a lawsuit for negligence in diagnosing three-year-old Jaydon Gilbert, who suffers from Hirschsprung’s disease, the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) is offering to have him undergo corrective surgery at the Jackson Memorial Children’s Hospital in the United States.
Last November, Jaydon’s mother Shirleen Gilbert, through her attorney Allison Roberts, stated that in spite of the various tests and diagnoses, the San Fernando General Hospital is yet to provide a satisfactory diagnosis of Jaydon’s problem.
Roberts claimed that after wasting time and denying Gilbert’s request for a second opinion on Jaydon’s problem, hospital staff had now requested that she get a second opinion from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in the United States.
Gilbert had demanded more than TT$400,000, inclusive of US$65,000 for inpatient surgery four weeks before arrival, and if the anticipated visit lasts more than seven days, the family would be responsible for an additional US$3,500 per day.
This does not include the preparation cost of getting to the US and accommodation for Gilbert.
The stipulated 28-day period for the SWRHA’s compliance had passed, but in a letter dated January 18, SWRHA legal officer Carla Scipio wrote to Roberts asking for an extension to provide a comprehensive response.
Last Friday, Scipio responded and said that she was instructed that contact was made with the Hope of a Miracle Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, which has agreed to fund Jaydon’s visit to the Miami-based hospital with one parent.
However, Scipio said having reviewed Jaydon’s medical records, it was revealed that two months after Jaydon’s birth in 2016, Gilbert was told of his clinical diagnosis of congenital Hirschsprung’s disease.
Hirschsprung’s disease is a condition that affects the large intestines, causing problems with passing stool.
It is caused by the absence of ganglion cells in the colon.
SWRHA’s letter also stated that colonic and rectal biopsies in May and June 2017 showed the presence of ganglion cells. It said Gilbert was “advised clinically that the child had Hirschsprung disease, but there was no histological confirmation” as it would require further biopsies.
Scipio said the hospital, at the time, did not have the equipment to perform the procedure.
“In this regard, your client’s allegation that ‘the hospital and its staff have been unable to provide . . . a satisfactory diagnosis of her son’s problem’ is unfortunate and unfounded.
While it is not denied that the option of Jaydon obtaining treatment abroad was discussed with your client, the averment that the authority had requested a second opinion abroad is denied.
“I am instructed that at each stage of treatment, your client was counselled by Jaydon’s medical team, which includes senior medical officers and the relevant consent forms were signed,” Scipio wrote.
However, Gilbert said it was not until 2018, when Jaydon underwent a “pull-through procedure” at the Southern Medical Centre, that she was informed of the diagnosis.
A May 2017 surgical pathology report provided by Gilbert showed that a biopsy was done on Jaydon, whose clinical history was abdominal distension, delayed passage of meconium with a question mark and Hirschsprung. In another report in June 2017, the clinical history was “constipation/blood? Hirschsprung.” It also showed that the ganglion cells were present in his intestines on both occasions, adding to Gilbert’s concern over whether her son really had the disease.
She said while she has submitted the documents necessary for Jaydon to undergo surgery at the Miami hospital, she has not yet made up her mind.
Through her research, she said the Jackson Memorial Children’s Hospital did general medicine as opposed to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the US, which has a colorectal cancer centre that specializes in treating children with Hirschsprung’s disease.
“Given everything that has happened, I don’t want six months after we leave Miami, that he has problems again.
I prefer to have him go to Cincinnati where they specialize in Hirschsprung,” she said.
Reporter: Kevon Felmine