WHY WE NEED A STRONG CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM
My name is Evilyn Ramirez. In 2009 my husband, Erik, and I were looking forward to the birth of our first child. It was an exciting time for us, but it soon turned into a nightmare. Our daughter, Dahlia, was born 15 weeks early and because of her prematurity she was born with a heart defect, Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). Doctors told us that she need needed heart surgery to repair the hole in her heart.
We put all of our trust into our doctors to take care of our precious baby girl during heart surgery about a month after she was born, but something went terribly wrong when the surgeons made the first cut. A preventable operating room “flash fire” occurred under her drapes and set Dahlia’s body on fire. It burned my tiny baby over 37 percent of her body with 2nd and 3rd degree burns. Her face was burned and she lost part of her nose. She also lost her fingertips and thumbs. Dahlia was without oxygen for at least 15 minutes, which triggered a cardiac emergency that left her brain-damaged and resulted in Dahlia suffering from cerebral palsy today. Because of the fire, the heart surgery was never performed; it had to wait another month.
Dahlia’s injuries were severe and still affect her to this day. She undergoes physical, speech and occupational therapy several times a week. She may also have to endure further plastic surgeries to repair the scars on her face.
The civil justice system allowed us to hold the doctors and hospital accountable for not providing safe conditions for our daughter while she was in the operating room. Our lawsuit brought the dangerous situation of flash fires to light and now more doctors are undergoing fire prevention training to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again.
If it weren’t for the civil justice system, we would not have had the resources to pay for Dahlia’s everyday care, therapies, specialized education and future surgeries that she needs to overcome her injuries as best she can. It will allow us to give Dahlia all the things she will need to live as close to a normal life as possible.