Aj Mast  /  AP
Nurses work in the Methodist Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
updated 9/20/2006 8:56:33 PM ET 2006-09-21T00:56:33

The grandmother of a third premature infant who died after being accidentally given an adult-sized dose of blood thinner medication at a hospital said Wednesday that she prayed other families wouldn’t go through what she had, because it was hard “to sit there and watch my granddaughter die.”

The baby girl, Thursday Dawn Jeffers, died late Tuesday at Riley Hospital for Children five days after she was born at Methodist Hospital. She had been transferred to Riley once her condition worsened from receiving an adult dose of heparin, a drug routinely given to premature babies.

The child’s grandmother, Joanna Pruitt, said Wednesday at an emotional, impromptu news conference called at her daughter’s apartment that doctors initially told the family that the 4-pound, 6-ounce baby just needed oxygen “to get her lungs going good” after she was born. The infant had been breathing on her own before receiving the drug, she said.

'They killed my grandbaby'
“When she got the heparin, that’s when she started, you know, breaking down, and I really don’t know what to say, except that they killed my grandbaby,” Pruitt said. “And I will never forget it, and I pray to God no one has to go through this, no one, because it’s hard, to sit there and watch my granddaughter die.”

“They killed my baby. Why, oh why?” the child’s sobbing mother, Heather Jeffers, her eyes red from crying, asked her mother.

Two other girls, D’myia Sabrina Nelson and Emmery Miller, both less than a week old, died Saturday at Methodist’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

They were given the drug, which is often used to prevent blood clots that could clog intravenous tubes, after a pharmacy technician accidentally stored adult doses in the neonatal unit’s drug cabinet. Three other babies who also received too-strong doses were still in critical condition because they are premature but were not considered in danger from the overdoses, said Methodist Hospital spokesman Jon Mills.

The pediatric center, Riley Hospital for Children, called Heather Jeffers on Tuesday night to tell her Thursday Dawn was nearing death. Pruitt said her daughter told her: “They kept my baby girl alive until I got there. And when I got there, I held my baby girl until she died.”

Hospital has offered to pay restitution
The Jeffers and Miller families have retained an attorney, Nathaniel Lee of Indianapolis. He scheduled a news conference for Thursday morning.

The hospital will offer to pay for family counseling and provide restitution to all six families affected, said Sam Odle, president and CEO of Methodist Hospital.

“We are acutely aware that nothing can adequately compensate these families for their loss,” Odle said.

Since the overdoses, the hospital has taken steps to ensure the mistake does not happen again. It will no longer keep certain doses of heparin in inventory, and all newborn and pediatric critical care units will require a minimum of two nurses to validate any dose of heparin, Odle said. State Health Commissioner Dr. Judith Monroe said Wednesday that she believed Methodist had responded correctly.

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