The death of a child is a tragedy that no parent should have to endure. Yet, for Ryan and Becky Kekula, this unimaginable pain became a reality when their 6-month-old son, Jackson, passed away during a routine sleep study at Boston Children's Hospital. In a heart-wrenching turn of events, the Kekulas have been awarded a $15 million payout from the hospital after their baby suffered a traumatic brain injury due to insufficient oxygen during the procedure. As they continue to grieve the loss of their son, the Kekula family seeks to raise awareness of the dangers and flaws in the medical system that led to this terrible outcome.
Jackson Kekula was born with dwarfism, a genetic condition that also afflicted his parents. Along with his small stature, Jackson suffered from sleep apnea, necessitating the use of supplemental oxygen. In February last year, the Kekulas took Jackson to Boston Children's Hospital for a second round of a car-seat test and sleep study, expecting it to be a routine procedure. Unfortunately, what unfolded was nothing short of a nightmare.
Less than an hour after being placed in the car seat for the sleep study, Jackson went into cardiac arrest and suffered a traumatic brain injury due to a lack of oxygen. The Boston Globe revealed a harrowing timeline, showing that the hospital staff focused on adjusting machinery rather than checking on the struggling infant. Jackson's oxygen levels plummeted to dangerous lows, and his heart rate dropped drastically. By the time the staff realized the severity of the situation, it was too late.
Just 12 days after the sleep study, Ryan and Becky Kekula made the agonizing decision to take their son off life support. Reflecting on the tragic incident, Becky Kekula told WBZ-TV, “We went from February 18th just doing a routine study — to March 2nd to saying goodbye [and] March 3rd calling the funeral home.”
Determined to seek justice for their son, the Kekulas met with attorneys and sent a notice letter of a potential claim. Before a lawsuit was filed, Boston Children's Hospital agreed to a $15 million payout. The hospital issued a statement expressing their deepest condolences and apologizing to the family. They also acknowledged that they had stopped all sleep studies and conducted a thorough review of the incident, implementing improvements to ensure patient safety.
As they continue to mourn their son, the Kekulas are now exploring the option of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to grow their family. IVF allows for genetic screening, which can help prevent potentially fatal abnormalities. “We just emotionally don't want to face another tragedy, if we can prevent it,” Becky said.
The devastating loss of Jackson Kekula serves as a somber reminder of the importance of vigilance and accountability within the medical community. As the Kekulas continue their journey to heal and grow their family, their story highlights the need for improved protocols and patient safety measures in hospitals. It is the hope of the Kekula family, and countless others affected by medical tragedies that their story can bring about meaningful change and prevent future heartache.