Diana Christine Brookins was born on a snowy February afternoon at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in 1979. She died on July 25, National Patient Safety Day, 2004. For 25 years, she was the life and light of her immediate and extended family and an entire community of people who watched her grow up onstage in critically acclaimed roles at her mother’s theatre company, HART (Hillsboro Artists Regional Theater Company), just outside Portland, Oregon.
When Diana was 25, she found out she was pregnant and made the decision to keep her pregnancy and her baby. She continued to live and work near her parents in Portland and participated in church and theatre activities. On Palm Sunday, 2004, as she stood in front of her pastor to receive an Easter blessing, Diana collapsed from the pain of a single gallstone.
She was rushed into surgery and a complication ensued immediately. The complication was not acknowledged despite frequent attempts to get attending physicians to believe her. Three weeks following Diana’s original gall bladder surgery, the surgeon did an exploratory operation and collapsed in the operating room upon realizing what permanent damage had been done to this young mother-to-be.
An eight-hour surgical repair followed. Diana lived in two hospitals in critical condition from the 14th until the 29th week of her pregnancy, when her baby daughter was delivered. Within 110 days of having a minimally invasive gall bladder operation, Diana had nine surgeries, nine PICC lines, and developed liver, kidney, and heart failure. MRSA-infected PICC lines had destroyed the tricuspid valve in her heart.
Diana died eight days following the birth of her only child, Julia Belle Brookins, who now resides with her maternal grandmother, Kim Sandstrom Hawskey. Kim is a member of Mothers Against Medical Error and speaks on behalf of patients everywhere. Kim also is the author of Damselfly: The Diana Brookins Story, which is the first full-length theatrical production dedicated to all who have been lost to medical negligence and error.