Morgan Westhoff and her identical twin sister were each born with one of the more common congenital heart defects. Morgan’s twin had a successful procedure to correct the defect when the girls were 18 months old. 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 would be done. That indicated the procedure would be risky for her, as the instructions for the device should not be used in patients with her blood pressure readings.
Perhaps the fact that Morgan’s twin had no problem with the same procedure made the doctor less careful in determining whether Morgan should have had the procedure. Morgan could have been treated to bring down her blood pressure before the procedure was done, but was not. There was also a more common, tried and true surgical ligation procedure not involving a medical device.
Unfortunately, that safe and effective option was not offered to her parents. Morgan’s device initially seemed to have been inserted successfully, but while she was in the recovery room the device migrated and became lodged in a major artery, most likely because the device was too small. The doctor also said 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 Morgan’s death.
Because of MICRA’s unjust cap 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.