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Morgan McCracken, a 7-year-old who was hit in the head by a baseball, is seen in hospital after surgery for an epidural hematoma.
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Morgan McCracken and her father, Donald McCracken, are seen in this undated family handout photo.
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Dr. Alan Cohen, a pediatric neurosurgeon, speaks on CTV's Canada AM from Mentor, OH, Wednesday, April 1, 2009.
Natasha Richardson's death saves Ohio girl
Updated Wed. Apr. 1 2009 9:59 AM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
The sudden death of actress Natasha Richardson last month may have helped save the life of a seven-year-old Ohio girl.
Two days after Morgan McCracken was hit in the head by a baseball in her family's Mentor, Ohio, front yard, her parents watched news reports about how Richardson, 45, died following a skiing accident.
When Morgan began complaining of a crippling headache, her parents took her to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with the very same injury that eventually killed Richardson.
Like the late actress, Morgan didn't show any symptoms immediately after her injury, her father, Donald McCracken, told Canada AM Wednesday.
"We were throwing the ball around in the front yard. I was just hitting some fly balls to the kids and this one came off the bat in a kind of line drive and it was just too fast for her," he remembered.
At first, Morgan seemed okay, other than a bump on her head. Days went by without any reason for the parents to worry; Morgan went to school and seemed fine. Then two days later, the girl started complaining of a headache. Her parents immediately thought of Natasha Richardson.
"Natasha had just died the night before and it was all over the news the next day," remembers McCracken.
The parents called their daughter's pediatrician's office, and even before they were off the phone, Morgan was crying from pain. Her parents rushed her straight to hospital.
There, she was diagnosed with the injury that killed Richardson: an epidural hematoma, a blood clot in the brain that was leaking blood between the brain and the skull.
By the point that Morgan was complaining of headache, the pool of blood had grown so big, it was actually squeezing her brain, explained Dr. Alan Cohen, the pediatric neurosurgeon who treated Morgan at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland.
"Morgan's case was a life-threatening emergency," he said. "Although Morgan's went at a slower pace than Natasha's, by the time it got big, it was causing brain compression. And the ultimate outcome can be brain damage or death."
Cohen explained that the likely reason that Morgan's injury developed more slowly is that in her case, a vein in the brain has been injured. Richardson's injury was likely caused by a rupture of an artery. Arteries, which are under high pressure, can release a lot of blood in a short period of time into the skull, and a person's condition can deteriorate rapidly.
Morgan was given a CT scan at her local hospital and put on a helicopter to the hospital in nearby Cleveland, where she was whisked into the operating room within three minutes of arrival.
Cohen's team was able to surgically remove the clot and stop the bleeding. After five days in hospital, the little girl had made a full recovery and was able to go home, where she is doing fine.
Cohen says an acute epidural hematoma is "one of the most dramatic emergencies in the field of medicine."
"The speed that we can get the diagnosis and get the blood clot out in the operating room and stop the bleeding can literally make the difference between life and death," he said.
Cohan added the case is a good example that while most cases of a bumped head don't require a trip to a hospital, there are a number of telltale signs of a serious injury. They are:
- loss of consciousness
- wavering consciousness
- amnesia of the event or confusion
- a headache that goes from mild to severe in a matter of minutes
- weakness or paralysis on one side of the body.
Comments are now closed for this story Sandra
|Glad to hear everything is fine with this little girl. Looks like the death of Natasha Richardson saved her life and will save many others in the future. Thank you and RIP Natasha.|
|Nice to hear a good story for a change.|
|Nice to hear a good story for a change.|
|Difference between Natasha Richardson and this little girl? Quebec's pathetic health care may not have had the resources to detect the brain injury in time. Remember that Natasha Richardson transferred hospitals 3 times before ending up in NY. The only reason this girl is alive is because it happened in the States! |
|The issue is not the state of health care in Quebec, it is the fact that Quebec is the only province in Canada without a medivac helicopter system. Maybe it would have saved Ms. Richardson, we will never know. However, the government should seriously ask themselves why they cannot offer this emergency medivac system to the people of Quebec. If I was living in that province, I would be livid!|
|TO: Daniel Beauchemin|
Natasha Richardson refused treatment. The diagnosis could have been done just as well in Canada as it was in the states, but patient refusal trumps medical caution. Although her death was unfortunate, it is not the Quebec health-care system's fault.
There was a lesson learned from her death though, and this little girl's story proves it: Awareness is your best medicine.
Quebec's health care system is fine. She refused health care. That was the problem.
Inform your selves Canada: Frustrated in Ottawa
|Attn: Daniel Beauchemin:|
Woh woh woh... first of All Quebec`s health care system is not to blame for the death of Ms. Richardson. With any (ANY) head injury regardless of the severity at the time of occurance, medical attention is required and in the case of Ms. Richardson, it was dismissed without a second thought. It was in the opinion of the medical professionals in the first hospital in a rural area of Quebec to transfer her to the more sustainable facility in Montreal and after that it was the decision of her family to move her to the New York facility for reasons that most likely spell out A) insurance and B) New York was home. Being sick in a foreign country is not fun as most Canadians know. It`s best to be home where the doctors are familiar with your records and your insurance company won`t deny your coverage.
This little girl was saved as a result of an others' death and the lessons that it has taught us.
A bump on the head is not just a bump on the head. It`s life and death.
Protect your brains: Wear a helmet.
|Great outcome for the little girl but let us not forget what really killed Natasha Richardson. She didn't wear a helmet that would have protected her head from injury in the first place.Then she refused medical treatment that was offered to her in the early stages and would probably have saved her life. By the time she called for help later in the day she was pretty well beyond hope. Shoulda, coulda, woulda is an easy game to play when you already have the answers.|
RC of Toronto
|Even if Quebec has a medivac helicopter system, I'm still am not sure if it will save Natasha Richardson's life. The wait time for a CT Scan here in Canada is loong. Unless they ship her immediately to the States for treatment. The good thing is that with her death, the life of a child was saved. Thanks Natasha.|
|Ms. Richardson refused medical help. Then, when it was too late, it was a mad scramble to get her to a hospital. And... this story was reported on CNN last March 26, sheesh.|
Joe - Hamilton
|to Daniel, give your head a shake:|
I know americans who have "great private" healthcare and still had to fork out $85,000 US for an operation (20% of the cost)
Can't force any treatment on someone if someone refuse medical attention (according to most media CDN/US I've heard and read). It's called personal responsibility to take the treatment & consequences are your fault if you refuse.
By the way check out the facility in NYC she went to its a palliative care centre. Meaning there was no hope for her being saved by the mighty private system in the US.
|And they blame Canada for her|
refusal for medical attention.
My we thank the parents
for seeking medical help.
Just a parent who cares.
Dr. Clinton Morgan
|Canada,including Quebec has the best healthcare in the WORLD. Unfortunately, this injury 'lays low' at first, giving almost no symptoms, then when all emergency staff 'go home' unleashes its fury. In our medical journals there are many examples of this happening, due to the way the person feels immediately after the injury.|
If a similar injury happens to you, please, please, please seek medical attention, even if you feel okay.
Natasha ruptured an artery. There is far less time to diagnose and treat an artery rupture than a vein rupture. At the onset of symptoms, she was losing a tremendous amount of blood already and survival is unlikely. If she had as much time as this fortunate girl had, Natasha could have survived, too.
JP in Ontario
|Very glad to hear that the parents were flagged about head injuries, sadly it was due to one killing Ms Richardson, but it did save this girl's life. |
Wear a helmet skiing!!! And, stay at one hospital, flitting between will only delay diagnosis. Vanity lead to the magnitude of the Richardson injury, and fame delayed the diagnosis.
Steve from TO
|If it happened in Ontario, it would have been a different story as we have the best Medical Evacuation Airlift system in North America. However, that being said, Natasha wouldn't have been skiing on our pathetic hills!! Her death has saved this little girl - I'm sure she would be proud.|
|Daniel..Richardson death had nothing to do with that. The little girl in Ohio went days before getting treated. Richardson's was very quick. These types of injuries don't follow a exact timeline. In all likelihood, the hospital in Montreal most certainly did diagnose her...but Richardson had delayed getting help for almost 4 hours. If she had gone to the hospital, like the EMTs INSISTED, she might very well be alive today. |
In the case of the Ohio girl, you have to wonder why they didn't bring her to the hospital right away. Could it be that they knew they would be unable to pass the Wallet Biopsy at the front door????
How many others in the US die from simple hits on the head because they don't have insurance???
Health care for profit is obscene.
Jayna D (London ON)
|My father fell and hit his head on the car bumper a couple of years ago. He began to show signs (numbness in extremities, etc) within a few days but he had already been experiencing that from degenerative arthritis in his neck. After TWO WEEKS he could not stand one evening and his one side was limp. We thought he'd had a stroke, but it was a small hematoma in his head from his fall. If only he had told us he had fallen beforehand!|
And Daniel, the main difference between this little girl and Natasha is vein versus artery. Also Natasha not wearing a helmet when she was offered one, and Natasha refused medical treatment when she was offered it. Quebec health care can not force an adult to do what is best for them, but that doesn't make it a failure of Quebec health care. The best thing is early detection, and Natasha refused it.
|although Canada's healthcare is subsidized or covered, I would have been waiting in my emergency room for 8hrs before seeing a doctor and told I'd be put on a 6 month waiting list for a CT scan. long dead before the surgery. not that I want to pay for my health care but changes do need to be made.|
|What about the fact that Richardson refused medical treatments and called to cancel the ambulance against the hotel staff advices?? When she did agree, precious time had been lost and she was brain-dead on her arrival in Montreal. |
david sawkiw[saskatchewan farmer]
|My wife had a similar bleed in her brain 35 years ago. She got "lucky" she was totally paralysed on her right side and completely lost her speech.Now if the rest of you canadians out there think we have a good medical system you are DREAMING!!! If you think we have a good social safety net [to deal with the after effects],,you are delusional.|
That little girl should thank God she lives in the states!!
G. Gravelle, Ottawa, Ontario
|Glad to know the little girl will survive. Note to parents: When your kids are playing outside, make sure they're wearing a helmet in case they get hit on the head.|
|Natasha's death was simply because she wasn't FORCED to go to the ER. I would have scoffed at help too if I had a little bump on my head and felt fine. Daniel, blaming Quebec's healthcare system is very easy to do but it's also wrong and if you knew anything about what killed her and how it happened, you would know that.|
In the states you can not refuse medical treatment.In canada you have the right to refuse medical treatment.Its not the medical system that the issue its the laws around it.
|Sorry folks but doctor's in Canada didn't do a CT scan on Richardson because first they have to do a cost effective study in keeping with Canada's pathetic socialist medical system. Time wasted when there was none to waste. The little girl in Ohio is lucky to be in Ohio and not Quebec. |
Canada has a great health care system.
|US has a great health care system for the rich.|
|If you go to emergency in Canada, and you do have something wrong with you, there is very good access to scans. My father had a bleed in his brain last weekend which made him lose vision in his eye. He was able to get 3 CT scans and 1 MRI within a day, as well as emergency surgery. This was in a rural area too. Our healthcare system is pretty damn good. If this happened in the US, my family would probably have to sell our house, and we still wouldn't have paid the bills.|
|Perhaps when the Emergency Code 3 was issued for Ms. Richardson, she should have allowed the EMT's to take her to the hospital. Instead, she said she was fine and did not need their attention. That is why she died. Had nothing to do with being in Quebec or there being no Medivac.|
She changed hospital 3 times simply because if she had help in the first place.
At least in Canada, her family wouldn't go bankrupt like in the US. Had this happened to someone without VIP status or insurance they'd be dead too in the US!
|Have you people claiming you'll wait months for a CT scan actually gone for an injury? I had one within 30 minutes of arriving at the hospital.|
Again in the states you do not have the right to refuse treatment that is the difference.
DM in NB
|Good thing this didn't happen to that little girl in Canada. She'd still be waiting to get in to the ER.|
|"Daniel Beauchemin"s" post is way off side and highly partisan.If you follow the time line and consider where she was in the case of Natasha's tragic accident,I see no reason to accept that conclusion.|
I see lots of room for improvements to our health care system.But to "spin" this untimely loss of Natasha's life for nothing more than partisan whining says more about the person who posted it than it does about the health care system.
I can only conclude that "Daniel" has learned how to "spin" an item by wathching politicians and political junkies at work,
How sad for all of us if we continue down a road that leads to decisions being made based of "spin".
|Natasha Richardson's death was so tragic and I believe that we are all more aware and informed on what to look for if we or someone we know or love suffers a head injury. To her we are grateful. What I didn't know about Quebec's health care system which Natasha's death highlighted is that they don't have Emergency Medical helicopters. This is also tragic. You have a popular tourist ski destination where many serious injuries could occur and you don't have emergency medical evacuation. I think this will effect outside tourist traffic to the area. It's ironic that an emergency room physician had been trying unsuccessfully to establish such service before Natasha's Richardson's death. Her death demonstrated his motives and purposes for such an important need. I believe that emergency evacuation to a trauma center may have made the difference between life and death for Ms. Richardson. We have them in Ontario and you see them all the time. My friend was saved by Medical air evacuation. I hope the Quebec government does the right thing and get such a service in place. |
|In Reply to Lee. Before accusing the Quebec healthcare system you should actually get all the facts to the story. When Mrs Richardson hit her head, the ski resort personnel were worried enough to call emergency responders. Did you know she was even slated to have a scan but SHE REFUSED TREATMENT! I am truly sorry, but she was the major factor in her death. Had she followed medical recommendations from everyone involved she might still be alive. Quebec does not have the perfect healthcare system granted and no we do not have a Helicopter service, but have you ever traveled through the US? Heck, there are places in the US that are so remote and recluse that you would think you are in a third world country. And let’s not forget the US per profit healthcare system; where uninsured children die from things as stupid as infected teeth, where the infection spreads to the brain, because their parents can’t afford the cost of seeing a doctor, never mind if children have something serious. You can lose your shirt, your house and even spend the rest of your life paying back for medical services. And let’s not talk about the people who cannot even afford their medication, and die, because there is no State sponsored medication insurance for the less fortunate. So stop pissing on the Quebec healthcare system, everything can always be better, but I will take my healthcare system to that of the US anytime. I will also pick our childcare system and our public schooling system over that of the US anytime. Blaming Canada seems to be a National US pastime but I would suggest watching less South Park and getting in touch with the facts and reality. |
Linda in Vancouver
|It's disappointing to hear a doctor claim that "Canada has the best health care system in the world". I would take serious issue with that.And also find it difficult to further the debate about improving our system in the face of people who might actually believe it is the best.It is NOT.|
Aside from that,only with the benefit of hind sight Natasha's life could have POSSIBLY been saved.To conclude that she died as a result of poor care,you also have to make some other assumptions.First,that she would have accepted medical care IMMEDIATELY.Then,you also have to assume she was close enough to a hospital with an emergency trauma centre to get there in time to help her.I see no reason to assume either is true.
This was sad case.We may know more in time,but I am left with one rather nagging question.When Natash was diagnosed,was it already to late.I thought flying would be out of the question in a case like hers.Altitude,it seems to me,would make her condition even worse.
I suspect,and also heard rumours,that she was already beyond help before she left Canada.And,there are many reasons a family would want her to "life supported" until she got home.Including organ donation,and a family that wanted to share a few moments with her.
Our healthe care system is not the best.The USA has higher quality of care,but not for everyone.There are good things in both,but both of or systems need work.It's to bad politics get in the way.But for that,we could do much better for the same amount of money.And the people could easily give care to ALL the people there for the huge amount they pay now.Approx $5700 per capita in the USA,vs $3700 per in Canada and France.