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Parents sue, say doctors wrongly declared son dead

Attorney Michael Cox Plaitiffs Pink Dorsey SheenLane attorney Barry Goldberg after attorneys filed suit behalf Pink Dorsey SheenLane against Mercy

Attorney Michael Cox, Plaitiffs Pink Dorsey and Sheena Lane and attorney Barry Goldberg after the attorneys filed suit on behalf of Pink Dorsey and Sheena Lane against the Mercy Hospital and Medical Center alleging severe emotional distress for declaring their son, Jaylen Dorsey, dead when he was in fact, still alive. Friday, October 19, 2012 | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 21, 2012 6:08AM

Sheena Lane and Pink Dorsey had already picked a funeral home, and a man was at the hospital — ready to take the body of their 7-year-old son, Jaylen Dorsey.

But the South Side parents hadn’t finished saying their final good-byes — a task made more agonizing by the sight of their son’s eyes continuing to “pop open.” It was just the lingering effects of the medicine, the doctors at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center told them on that unforgettable day last February. Their son was dead, they were told.

So why, Jaylen’s devastated parents wondered, did their boy’s chest continue to move up and down, and why was he warm to the touch?

Because Jaylen wasn’t dead.

“We’re not doctors, so we just went along with what they told us,” Dorsey, 28, said Friday, one day after lawyers for he and Lane filed a negligence lawsuit against Mercy in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Lane and Dorsey claim they endured four hours of “severe emotional distress,” believing their son had died, until a heart ultrasound finally confirmed that Jaylen hadn’t.

“All of this was totally preventable,” said one of the parents’ attorney, Barry Goldberg. “There was a total lack of compassion and empathy on behalf of the physicians involved.”

In a written statement, Mercy disputes the lawsuit’s claims: “Jaylen arrived to Mercy after suffering full cardiac arrest for over 25 minutes. Mercy’s ED physicians and clinicians treated Jaylen for an extended period of time following all medical protocols in an attempt to resuscitate him. Despite extensive resuscitative efforts, Jaylen did not immediately regain a pulse and no heart activity was noted for several hours. Once a pulse was noted, the decision was made to transfer Jaylen, due to his critical health needs, to Comer Children’s hospital. While this is a very rare occurrence, extensive resuscitation efforts, medication and young age can result in a patient’s heart function returning spontaneously. We hope for continued strength for Jaylen.”

Lane and Dorsey’s lawyers, citing the on-going litigation, wouldn’t go into detail about Jaylen’s health issues at birth, other than to say he had “a difficult birth.”

In any case, on Feb. 18, Lane found her son unresponsive in his bed and had him rushed to the hospital. Doctors in less than an hour gave her the awful news: “This was the end for Jaylen,” Lane said.

When Dorsey arrived a little later, he too received the grim diagnosis. Further efforts to work on Jaylen would be futile, Lane and Dorsey said they were told.

And so the parents began to make plans for their son’s funeral.

In the meantime, Dorsey and Lane stayed by their son’s bed. More family arrived. Jaylen’s suddenly opening eyes startled the new arrivals, making them gasp, Dorsey said.

“Eventually, it will stop,” Lane said doctors told them.

When it didn’t, the family demanded more tests, and doctors checked Jaylen’s heart.

“You didn’t have to be a doctor to see that the heart was pumping blood,” Dorsey said.

A stunned doctor called it “a miracle,” Lane said.

“She said, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before,’” Lane recalled.

But Lane and Dorsey say their relief was short lived, as they thought about what removing Jaylen’s respirator for several hours may have done to his health.

Lane and Dorsey say Jaylen, who was bedridden and on a respirator before his trip to Mercy, now shows few signs of life. He no longer smiles, opens his eyes or perks up when a familiar face comes in his room, they say.

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