Morgan Westhoff and her identical twin sister were each born with a common congenital heart defect. At 18 months old, Morgan’s twin had a successful procedure to implant the device that would correct the defect. The same procedure was performed Jan 18, 2013 on Morgan, even though her doctor knew Morgan had abnormally high blood pressure readings in the area where the procedure was to be done. Her high blood pressure was an indicator that the procedure would be risky, as the device should not be used in patients with high blood pressure readings.
Perhaps the fact that Morgan’s twin had encountered no problems with the same procedure stopped the doctor from questioning whether it was appropriate for Morgan. Morgan could have been treated with something to reduce her blood pressure before the procedure was performed, but she was not. There was also an alternative route, a more common, tried and true surgical ligation procedure that did not involve the medical device.
Unfortunately, that safe and effective option was not offered to her parents. Though the insertion of Morgan’s device initially seemed successful, the device migrated and became lodged in a major artery while she was in the recovery room, most likely because the device was too small. The doctor also said that Morgan’s high blood pressure, which was known before the procedure, could have caused the problem.
The attempt to retrieve the device was unsuccessful and the obstruction of her artery caused cardiac arrest and catastrophic brain damage that led to Morgan’s death.
Because the unjust 1975 cap on compensation for injured patients values Morgan’s life at just $250,000, her parents have been unable to find an attorney to hold Morgan’s doctor accountable for what happened.