Family questions medical care after child’s death

WAYLAND, Mich. — A family is looking for answers after losing a 6-year-old girl to leukemia.

Jasmine Dennis died last Friday after making several visits to three West Michigan hospitals looking for answers.

Her mother says they received the leukemia diagnosis just two days before Jasmine passed, and her daughter’s death could and should have been prevented if doctors listened to the family’s concerns and ran tests to reveal Jasmine’s true symptoms.

The family says the issues started with her primary care doctor at Ascension Borgess in Plainwell.

"She had been sick for a while, with flu symptoms on and off, throwing up with high fever, and I kept taking her and they kept saying it's the stomach virus, that little kids can get multiple stomach viruses,” said Carrie Pease, Jasmine’s mother.

She says she made multiple trips between Borgess in Plainwell and the Mercy Health Southwest Campus in Byron Center, concerned medical professionals weren’t doing enough. Pease said the family doctor only prescribed Jasmine anti-nausea medication.

"This last time, I was like ‘you guys can't keep telling me it's a stomach virus,’" she said.

Peace says Mercy Health finally told her the issue could be appendicitis or a ruptured appendix and had her take Jasmine to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.

“Instead of reassessing her and doing blood work first or anything … (they) immediately did that CT (scan) with contrast and it actually made her kidneys worse,” said Ashley Pierce, Jasmine’s aunt.

While waiting for a surgeon to arrive, the family learned the true diagnosis.

“The doctor comes in and sits right here. So literally Jasmine's between us, and he tells us she's got leukemia,” Pierce recalled.

Looking back, her family says she had all the symptoms.

"All signs of the most common cancer in children,” Pierce said. “Why was it missed?"

Notes from a physician assistant at Borgess mentioned Pease’s persistence that something more was going on. Now, the grieving mother is bearing the guilt.

“I should have told them to do that blood test,” she says.

Her family says Jasmine was given medicine that ended up causing a blood clot in her brain. After a surgery to relieve pressure from Jasmine’s brain, the family says they were told nothing else could be done.

"Either she was going to pass away in Carrie's arms or on the table, he pretty much said,” Pierce said. Pease wept, “So I had them take off all the tubes, and I got to lay with her."

Now, the family is hoping their story can help somebody else.

“Carrie just wanted to get Jazzy's story out there. So maybe it could help another kid. Ya know, or maybe make other doctors... like maybe listen to the parents more,” Pierce said. "They know when something's not right."

Each medical facility provided the following statements regarding Jasmine’s death:

  • "Ascension Borgess holds the privacy of our patients in the highest regard. With this, and in adherence with applicable state and federal laws, we do not comment publicly on specific patient related matters.”
  • "Mercy Health is not able to comment on patients in order to protect their privacy."
  • "We continue to express our deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to the family involved. The care and safety of our patients is of the utmost importance to Spectrum Health. Out of respect for the patient and their family, we will continue to ensure their privacy and will not be making public comment."

The family has created a GoFundMe to cover funeral and medical expenses.

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3 comments

  • Ohmygoodness!

    This is so sad! The mother should no carry guilt as she did her best by seek medical attention on multiple occasions. The doctors failed her and her child. Had she demanded that blood test, who knows where the doctors attention level most likely would’ve drop to. Her persistence eventually lead her to Devos Pediatric Hospital, where the unfortunate true diagnosis was discovered. A diagnosis which could have been discovered at both medical facilities that seen the child prior had they performed their jobs as all medical pro should. The flu is most deadly in children, so why not take the case seriously if that was the cop out diagnosis? The mother needs to contact a lawyer and I guarantee that she will feel more at peace as she fights in her daughters honor and wins.

  • Shari

    Darren Cunningham, I am very impressed with how well you wrote this article. Very professional and you really took the families feelings into consideration. As a Registered Nurse, I can say you hit the nail on the head with regards to the problem: medical professionals not listening enough to family concerns. I appreciate you reached out to the medical facility, shared their comments, and even put their “go fund me” pave on here. Well done, you wrote this in a way medical professionals will listen. I know as a result, I will be inquiring more with family about their thoughts/concerns and advocating harder when appropriate. My condolences to the family and all affected. This is a tragedy.

  • Ken

    John’s Hopkins University did a study regarding medical errors. They found that medical errors account for at least 250,000 deaths each year. This makes medical practitioners the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States. Go ahead, do a search for that study, it’s right on the JHU website. Car accidents, guns and opioid deaths combined, lag behind the carnage medical practitioners leave in the wake of their errors. Maybe it’s time you had a conversation, with your doctor.

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