An 8 year old boy with medical conditions named Cole Hartman nearly drowned in a washing machine at his home in LA. He went into cardiac arrest shortly after, and ended up in a coma, on a ventilator.
Doctors at UCLA Medical Center’s intensive care unit told his family that he was not brain-dead, but “would never recover normal neuro function and … could never awaken,” according to medical records.
With the frequency that doctors are incorrect when they make grave predictions, was he really doomed to never wake up again?
With the doctor’s statement as the foundation for their decision, the family decided to take Cole off life support, and gave consent for his organs to be harvested.
He was removed from the ventilator and died 23 minutes later. He was pronounced dead by an anesthesiologist: and it turns out this person also gave the child a fatal dose of Fentanyl, when the boy could have possibly lived without life support.
Now, a coroner’s investigator is alleging that the boy was given a fatal dose of Fentanyl, one of the most dangerous and potent opioids in existence, to ensure they could harvest his organs. According to LA Times:
“Homicide detectives are looking into an allegation by a coroner’s investigator that the anesthesiologist gave Cole a fatal dose of the opioid fentanyl to hasten his death and increase the likelihood his organs could be harvested. No charges have been brought.
Detectives opened the case earlier this year. Denise Bertone, a veteran coroner’s investigator who specializes in child deaths, first flagged the use of fentanyl at the time of Cole’s 2013 autopsy and campaigned for years to persuade supervisors to reexamine the case. Her efforts resulted in the coroner’s office amending Cole’s death certificate in December to add fentanyl toxicity as a “significant cause” of his death.
Read Denise Bertone’s lawsuit against Los Angeles County
“To me, this was not an academic question,” Bertone said in an interview.
Bertone filed a whistle-blower retaliation lawsuit last month accusing the coroner’s office of giving her less-desirable assignments as punishment for raising questions about Cole’s death.”
So why are doctors even possessing one of the most dangerous opioids in existence, measured in micrograms it is so potent? Why would they give someone on life support a high dose of Fentanyl?
The frequency of situations like this happening is probably much greater than we know.
(Image credit: Drug Classroom)