(As told by Anders’ mother Melissa)
Anders and my daughter Kelly had a special sibling bond. They were pals, they did everything together.
When Kelly was just 15 months old, she suddenly fell very sick. At the time, doctors told us that they would have to continually assess her kidney function at different milestones – three years, five years, 12 years and so on.
She did really, really well, but when she hit 30, her kidneys started to go downhill. She began looking for a kidney donor, which could have conceivably meant five to seven years on a waiting list.
Anders immediately wanted to be the donor. After the surgery, the doctor called me and said that it went well. Anders woke up early the next morning, went to see Kelly and told her that it had been the best day of his life, and he really loved her.
But just a couple of hours later, he was in a lot of pain. He went from being on fentanyl to dilaudid, and I let the nurse on duty know that he was really vomiting, something which I later found out went unreported.
The following morning, the doctors came by and gave him another dose of medication, without my knowledge. Later, I went over to touch his hand, and it was really cold. I looked at his face, took off his glasses and saw that his face was yellow, and his lips were blue. I knew he was not breathing.
I screamed his name and there was no response, so I screamed at the nurse for help. Anders was in a coma for nine days, and he never came out of it. The hospital told us that his heart just stopped.
We just wanted to find out what had happened, but when I asked for the medical records, the day after he passed away, I was told that they could not provide them. I persisted, I went to speak to attorney and eventually we found out the truth.
It turned out that it had been the perfect storm. Everything wrong had happened, from them not checking in on him enough to overdosing him. We sought legal action, and prevailed. I won’t call it a win, but the judge ruled in our favor.
I think this sent a message. The system needs to be changed. If people know that they need a pulse oximeter to assess their medication tolerance, how many lives could be saved? Anders needs a voice and I’m his voice. When we found the truth of what had really happened, I felt that his voice had been heard.
Giving his sister that gift was so amazing. With his passing, I have had so many friends of his and friends of mine say that he changed their lives. He was our hero.